The quantum marketing skills challenge.
Most of the marketing tasks that once took highly-skilled teams weeks to accomplished can now be actioned in minutes by an individual with a smartphone. Even the most complex programmatic campaigns are triggered, delivered and dynamically optimised in milliseconds. But speed isn’t everything.
While marketers make every effort to optimise business and human productivity, and have yet to factor for the full implications of digital transformation, automation and blockchain, QIS (Quantum information science), funded by tech giants and governments, will lead to an even greater revolution in how the digital and physical worlds are connected.
Advanced digital transformation projects are already finding new ways to shift business cultures from competitive pricing approaches to delivering better customer experiences, but the process is often slow, painful and costly both in business and human terms.
In the near future, blockchain, has the potential to help digital marketers enhance transparency by verifying individuated human ad views and developing collective creativity by paying individual consumers for user-generated content and reviews. The implications for all intermediaries: agencies, publishers and platforms are beyond disruptive.
A recent Marketing Week article citing research by Oracle, estimated that 98% of businesses expect to have installed marketing automation systems across sales, marketing and customer service by 2020. Combine this with the client-side drive for zero-based budgeting and developing in-house agencies, and you can see that brands are preparing for direct, permission-based access to prospects and customers in real-time.
There are greater challenges to come in the form of QIS (quantum Information Science). QIS-technology and QIS-enabled devices will introduce machines capable of taking information acquisition, processing, and transmission to a place far beyond fast. Potentially to a level approaching human intelligence but on a global scale. What then for the poor old (or young) marketer in years to come?
Imagine a world in which a QIS-enabled microchip is embedded into everything you see, buy and use? Chips that can engage with you as unique individual in both time and space – without an ad agency, publisher or even a bank being involved.
Imagine a world in which universal cyber and physical world scanning systems combine to deliver uniquely personalised customer experiences created and delivered direct to the customer’s contact lenses. Smart lenses that turn any visible surface to an advertising medium tuned to each individual.
Imagine a world in which prospects and customers are as integrated into the business as your workforce? An intimate combinatorial network in which data from users is persistently re-designing the next iteration of your product and communications activities. It is not a matter of being a faster business, but being a business that is profoundly different.
Companies involved in digital transformation have discovered that the problem is more often analogue (human) than they are digital. It is the experts who feel most threatened by fundamental change in work practices. Many have been challenged to build the very systems that have changed their roles.
Training the perpetually evolving workforce of the future, will require a continuous reimagining of how professional marketers go about developing the progressive knowledge and skills sets they will need to build successful careers – even in the age of quantum marketing.
According to the latest IDM research on skills and personal development, the drive for increased productivity and efficiency is constrained by the fact that, “49% of marketers have not received training in the key skills they believe are essential to progress in their careers.”
Those critical skills include:
Mobile marketing, Optimising campaigns, Marketing automation & integration, Search marketing, analysing customer data/insight, Data analysis & reporting, Appraising employee performance, Presentation/public speaking, Marketing finance, Client/stakeholder management, Briefing agencies and evaluating performance. Hang on? Isn’t that most of what we get paid for doing? No wonder the tech companies are drolling at their terminals. Substituting capital for labour is their lucrative gig.
Unfortunately, many businesses still see professional training as a zero-sum game, despite the disruptive implications of digital transformation, marketing automation, Blockchain and QIS (Quantum Information Science).
To complicate matters worse, many marketing pundits claim we need to forget about the future and go back to fundamentals. In some respects, they are right. Name another field in which less than 50% of the workforce has a professionally relevant qualification?
To become a data researcher at Amazon, for example, you need a relevant PhD as a CV qualifying minimum. In marketing, as it unfortunately seems in politics, you appear to require nothing more than an enlarged ego and contempt for evidence of competence. This doesn’t bode well for the future that is about the get more complex by the nano-second.
Apple CEO, Tim Cook, is already predicting the end of the Smartphone that has done so much to drive digital marketing’s growth. “Things are going to get really weird for everybody,” he says, “Not just in terms of individual products but in terms of how we actually live our everyday lives and maybe our humanity itself.” WFT?
So how does a marketer prepare for a globalised work environment in which the shrinking shelf life of skills will become even more of a challenge… without losing the will to put up with our out of date systems and diminishing budgets?
The first thing to grasp is that Marshal Goldman is right. His book, “What got you here, won’t get you there,” is a wakeup call for us all.
The second is to realise that every marketer needs to embrace being permanently out of their comfort zone combined with an insatiable appetite for new knowledge and skills.
The third, is to understand that you can’t understand everything… but you do have to start somewhere. Here’s where I indulge in a little self-reflective Q&A.
Q. What are your thoughts on digital transformation? A. I believe it will shift the narrative from competitive pricing to delivering better customer experiences.
Q. What are your thoughts on Blockchain? It. A I believe it has the potential to make agencies, publishers and platforms a thing of the past.
Q. What do you think of Oracle’s claim that 98% of businesses expect to have installed marketing automation systems across sales, marketing and customer service by 2020? A. I believe it indicates that brands are preparing to shift to direct access to prospects and customers and cutting out business intermediaries.
Q. How do you plan a campaign for a world where trillions of IoT devices with quantum-enabled microchips are meshed into everything prospects and customers see, buy and use? A. I believe we are heading into a world where dynamically optimised customer experiences are delivered direct to consumer contact lenses capable of turning any visible surface to advertising media?
Q. How do you build systems in which customers are as integrated into the business as your workforce? A. I believe it won’t be a matter of running a faster business, but building a business that is profoundly different.
Feel free to totally disagree. The point is to try, in your own way, to interpret and contextualise the random and conflicting signals emanating from those that dare to hint at the future. The likes of Klaus Schwab (The Fourth Industrial Revolution), Ray Kurtzweil (The Singularity), Max Tegmark (Life 3.0) and James Barrat (Our Final Invention), Nick Bostram (Superintelligence) George Monbiot (Out of the Wreckage) et al offers hints of dystopian and hope-filled adventures into the unknown. The point of all these musings in different fields is to help us individually and collectively be better prepared.
Prepared for what, you ask? Prepared for when we realise that the future of our business lies in human response to the combinatorial innovation that takes place where disciplines collide. There is a little bit of mad scientist in us all that hates playing it safe.
I have been in marketing for close to 40 years and have never seen anything like the rate of change in the last 10. It keeps me interested and flames the fire of my indescriminate curiosity. As it does Amazon’s customer-centric research teams who are hell-bent on automated CX. Is the rapacious tech giant looking to replace us with intelligent systems?
“I am sorry Dave. I can’t answer that question.”
Even as Amazon pours $22 billion a year into improving tech and content, and 6,000 cutting-edge Martech companies collectively invest even more in new ways for Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Neural Networks to continue reshaping the cybernetic landscape at our fingertips, the biggest transformation in marketing will, as I see it, continue to be a human one.
More than one company involved in epic digital transformation projects has discovered that the problem is fundamentally analogue (human) problem rather a digital tech fantasy. And, it is often the company’s most important assets, (its experts), who feel most threatened by persistent change in work practices.
The challenge of the next 10 years will be as defined by ethics as much as technology. Even in the age of quantum marketing, the emphasis we place on the value and importance of human relationships may well be the difference between success and failure. We live, as the saying goes, in hope.