Understanding the role of technology in marketing

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

How can marketers keep up with the speed of technological change?

Such is the speed of technological change that research shows four out of five executives feel overwhelmed and underprepared for the challenges of the next five years. Hardly surprising – for some, the next five years will see more change than the last 20.

In the last event of MOI Global’s 2017 series of Disrupt Forum dinner discussions, three technology experts revealed where marketers should focus.

Technology to fit your business phase

It sounds obvious, but avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of technology available by plotting where your business or product sits on the growth curve. If you’re in the reseach and development phase, social data technology can help you assess customer needs or sentiment. During the growth phase, data analytics help you refine your message, offer, customer experience. Be honest about the phase you are in.

Technology for relevance

Different people use technology differently and reveal information about themselves in different ways. Social data is high-value, unprompted opinion that’s already out there and that you can access quickly and easily to discover not just who to engage with, but when, where, how and with what. And today, when data privacy is paramount, you can do this fast and effectively, with no invasion of privacy whatsoever.

An age of creativity

Some say "fail fast", but we prefer "experiment and learn at speed". From artificial intelligence (AI) that can assess and adapt campaign performance in seconds, to technology that measures sentiment via facial muscle tension, your creativity with technology is limited only by your imagination. With today’s technology you’ve got the agility to react at speed when something isn’t working, and the ability to scale quickly when it is.

You don’t need to know everything

That applies both to the wealth of technology out there and to the sheer amount that each different technology can do. For example, discovering the mood of an audience over the last ten minutes is more valuable, in terms of their readiness to buy, than a whole raft of historical data. Emotional analytics will play a very significant role going forward.

AI isn’t a horror sci-fi

From fears that it will take over the world to worries it will take people’s jobs, AI is still widely regarded with deep suspicion. Jeremy Waite of IBM explains its role well when he calls it instead Augmented Intelligence, and likens it to “the best marketing assistant you’ve ever had”. It can do a campaign analysis in minutes that might take your agency months – but, far from threatening jobs, machine learning works best when it has great people to learn from.

What did we learn from our 2017 Disrupt Forum series? What makes a modern marketer? It’s about new ways of thinking. Instead of skills, think characteristics. Instead of structure, think fluidity. Instead of keeping up with every new technology, use the right, dedicated few intelligently. Individuals must be curious and organisations must empower.

You can find out more about our findings on the future of marketing here.

Matthew Stevens is managing director at MOI Global.

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