Transformation is not new; across the strategy, insight and marketing spheres, technology has, over the years, fundamentally altered how we work, but what we face now is a quantum change. We already know that the amount of technology-enabled data has grown exponentially, and technology has freed us from many of the previously intricate and labour-intensive processes. We now carry around in our laptops the processing power that 40 years ago would have been housed in its own building. We can cite many examples, including:
Robot interviewers undertaking some simple interviewing assignments (with AI champing at the bit to take on ever more challenging interviewing roles).
Technology delivering many asynchronistic sources of insight has transformed our ability to analyse vast swathes of open-ended content, including social media data.
The arrival of technology-enabled large-scale mass marketing experimentation via Google Ads and Facebook advertising and other platforms able to test product and service ideas at the drop of a hat.
The arrival of very professional and powerful (DIY) platforms is/will transform(ing) the relationship between strategy, insight and marketing. This has all led to a democratisation of knowledge - with over one-half of all research now being conducted internally by clients, much of which is at a point of use by strategists and marketers.
We have seen many of the processes and functions hitherto undertaken by humans moved into the hands of the technology, but we are likely to see this enabling role for technology evolve into substitution. One marketing agency pitted Open-AI-powered copywriting software against a team of copywriters to write digital content for clients (Adweek ‘ChatGPT Upends Advertising & Marketing Jobs’). The AI system, paired with a human editor, was “magnitudes more efficient”. There was an 87% reduction in production time. As these systems embed themselves in businesses, the impact will lead to changes in skills profiles (in this case, from content creator to content editor) as well as headcount. Productivity will rise with our ability to now do more with less.
The amount of data our businesses now have access to is mind-boggling. By 2025, there will be 175 zettabytes of data in the global data sphere, up from 44 zettabytes at the beginning of the decade (Source: Seagate & World Economic Forum). This growth of data will not slow; we now have access to so many diverse sources of information that probably only AI has the power to truly extract maximum utility from it.