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AI's Impact on Marketing and a Changing Role for HR

First came the wheel, then the printing press, electricity, and microprocessors. Now, we are living in a new epochal moment: the age of artificial intelligence (AI). Computer systems designed to perform functions that once required human intellect are on the rise, as we find ourselves with more data and more advanced computing capabilities than ever before.

It is human nature to fear what we don’t yet understand, and many believe that these new, smart technologies will completely reshape the workplace as we know it. They’re right; AI will revolutionize the way nearly every sector—including marketing—does business, just not in the way that most people might think.

Dispelling the fears of AI

One of the most common fears regarding AI is that it will render human workers nonessential. However, a recent report from PwC shows that this couldn’t be further from the truth. The report predicts that AI could displace 7 million UK jobs across several industries, but a further 7.2 million could be created. This is a net of 0.2 million new jobs in the UK alone. While many may see AI adoption as a decimation of the human labour force, these figures prove that artificial intelligence has the potential to create more opportunity than it eliminates.

One of the key areas where AI could have an incredible impact is in marketing. Recent research predicts 29% adoption of this new technology within 18 months. Machine learning can be used to streamline expensive and time-consuming processes—such as media purchasing and metrics management—for marketers and help them to be more effective in customer service and retention. But in order for these technological capabilities to be most effective, individuals currently in marketing positions or those looking to embark on a career will need to adapt their skills to suit this new digital climate.

What does the future hold for careers in marketing?

To start, HR directors will need to help marketing teams hire the best talent possible and re-train their existing talent to adapt to the changes demanded by AI advancements. Critical thinking skills will be more imperative than ever before, especially in entry-level roles. AI already has the power to write great copy or create personalized ads, so it is crucial that human staff fill the gap in knowledge and advanced-level thinking that technology lacks. The two will work hand-in-hand to ensure that human goals and technological outputs align.

HR directors, CMOs, and team leaders should also push their creative thinkers to be more data and consumer driven. While creativity is important for staying innovative, it is essential that everyone on the team knows and understands the goals and results that need to be achieved with new technologies. When hiring talent, the ability to bring fresh ideas to the table is important, but the ability to visualize and implement real processes should be essential.

Lastly, HR directors should recruit marketing generalists who are able to perform many tasks instead of a specialist set of skills. As much of the mundane tasks will be handed off to machines, many organizations might consider scaling and consolidating their teams to cut costs or improve efficiency. HR directors should seek out marketers with a wide range of abilities for these types of positions, as AI assistance will enable these generalists to handle the work of several specialists. 

The key to a successful future career in marketing is not to view AI as a foe, but instead as an ally. Those looking to enrich their skills and abilities should seek continuous learning opportunities and stay connected with technological advancements. Marketers and executives who are established in their roles and want to push their organizations forward into the future should educate themselves and their teams. When used together correctly, human intellect and machine efficiency have the power to bring positive change to your business over time.

To learn how artificial intelligence can benefit you and your organization, pick up Using Artificial Intelligence in Marketing.