In July 2020, I published a post titled The Future of marketing. Given the rapid rise of deep learning-driven tools, what follows is an update to that post.

What’s changed? Is it more or less likely that the marketing department will be broken up? Will its functions be pushed under the management of other departments?

The 4th P – Promotion

I have discussed the current state of awareness campaigns elsewhere. I argued it is increasingly difficult to get found online. Online marketing will not go away, but the emergence of deep learning-based tools provides the customer with another set of options.

These new options will allow customers to operate differently too today. How they search for information will be different and the resources they interrogate will change.

I suggested the marketing tactics impacted the most by AI are those that are currently online-based.

In our previous post on the marketing organisation, we argued that as the marketing was broken up, online marketing would become the responsibility of sales.

The rise of AI will take more and more human input out of the online marketing equation over time. Hence, more justification for the marketing function to be overseen by the sales department.

The traditional marketing tactics that will retain the most value in awareness and lead generation campaigns will be those that still require a human. These include PR and events. These functions could be managed by internal or external specialists, under sales control.

Marketing has always been largely isolated from direct customer contact. Sales fit best with a more human approach.

Analytics and Data

As AI-driven toolsets continue to evolve, it is not only marketing that will adapt and change, disruption will also impact the IT department. For some tasks, AI tools will take over, but new roles will appear.

These new roles will include AI Coordinator or AI officer, who will have responsibility for coordinating AI across an organisation. Marketing thirst for data will fall under the control of the AI officer and/or their department.

Brand & Customer Experience

Although AI tools can help brand and customer experience are roles for humans rather than AI. This supports our view that the Chief Communications Officer role will remain and grow at the expense of the Chief Marketing Officer role.

Brand, therefore, is a stand-alone function, which is influenced on one side by the business strategy and core messages and on the other by customer experience. The brand we suggest will come under the CCO’s control.

In summary, I forecast a future with marketing functions absorbed by other departments. This trend will be driven by many factors and exacerbated by the efficiencies and capabilities brought about by AI technologies. AI will drive a more integrated business model where technology reshapes roles and departments.

However, there are roles where AI (at least in the medium term) will not replace the human touch. These will include customer experience and brand management.

AI-driven tools are disruptors, just like the internet and before that, the printing press. Where we end up is impossible to predict with any certainty and the above is only one view.

That said, I suggest it is wise for those in the marketing profession, especially those early in their careers, to take careful note of where their careers are headed. Those who aspire to a Chief Marketing Officer role might be best to think again.

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