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Is AI the new Boogeyman of marketing?

Is AI the new Boogeyman of marketing?

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In Microsoft’s 2023 Work Trend Index titled ‘Will AI Fix Work?’, 58% of respondents from the Asia Pacific (APAC) region fear that AI will replace their jobs. This worry is not unfounded, as 85% of leaders polled in the report said that they expect their employees will need new skills in the AI era. The Marketing function is no exception. Already, Generative AI and tools like ChatGPT are challenging the role of the dashboard and the function of data analytics to truly deliver timely, personalised engagements, actions and decisions.

AI advancement – doomsday approaching for marketers?

Like it or not, how marketing is done and defined is changing with the exponential advancement of AI. However, that brings us to another exciting truth: the future of marketing is still in the making. This holds tremendous significance for us and here's why:

First, in rapidly evolving sectors (such as digital transformation services, for example), the path forward is not entirely clear to our customers and stakeholders. This gives us an opportunity to make a significant contribution by advocating and demonstrating in partnership with our customers, that true transformation happens when organisations holistically embrace it, from their vision to their value.

Second, as we traverse this landscape where rules are still being written, trust is the foundation upon which we build our partnerships with our employees, customers, and stakeholders. A strong reputation is perhaps our most vital asset, which signals trustworthiness even before the first meeting or transaction happens. This is where the expertise of Marketing comes to the fore, building credibility, consistency, and customer-centricity into our operations.

Third, any discussion about the future of marketing must include consideration of the future of digital operating models and technological advancements like generative AI. The potential of AI to enable industries to scale beyond physical limits is immense. But equally crucial is the recognition of valuable data that resides in the institutional memories of individuals across society—data that's not captured in digital silos or data lakes. It's the delicate balance between the digital and analogue worlds that we need to examine.

Marketers, get ready for transformation

With the advent of AI, automation, and machine learning, the roles of marketers are set for transformation, not redundancy. The goal of AI implementation in most companies and marketing departments today is not to replace human resources altogether, but to further augment their productivity and efficiency by capitalising on the benefits that the technology can bring. ChatGPT, Copilot, Generative Fill and the likes are only as good as the prompts entered by the user, but if used proficiently, can greatly enhance productivity.

From brand marketers and growth marketers to product marketers, AI can act as a powerful ally, helping bridge gaps, generate greater value, and truly 'design for the category and analyse for the buyer'. A Salesforce survey conducted on over 1,000 marketers found that over half of them are already using generative AI in their work, and this proportion is expected to increase to over three quarters in the future. These early adopters – or possibly late majority by now – are using AI tools to eliminate tedious work such as copywriting and information gathering, so that they can focus on work that still cannot be replicated by an algorithm like strategy and creativity.

AI can also act as a tool that levels the playing field for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) when marketing resources are limited. In a survey on generative AI usage and attitudes by HubSpot, 71% of sales professionals and marketers in Singaporean SMEs said they have adopted generative AI into their work to boost competitiveness against large corporations without increasing marketing budgets or headcount.

Learn to work with AI, not against it

As AI permeates the workplace, the skills required to remain competitive and relevant are evolving. And this is our forte as professionals living in the age of constant disruption and transformation – we never stop upskilling and reskilling as we are required to. The most successful CMOs master their domain while gaining proficiency in adjacent disciplines. They balance creative storytelling with data-driven strategies, while adeptly leveraging AI tools.

A good example is Coca-Cola’s collaboration with OpenAI to launch the ‘Create Real Magic’ platform, where digital creatives globally can create original AI art by using assets from the Coca-Cola archives. Besides leveraging this platform to generate an abundance of user-generated content, Coca-Cola is also able to explore the limitless possibilities that technology and AI can offer to marketing and business operations.

The debate on whether AI will lead to mass unemployment or give birth to new job categories is still ongoing. There are those who envision a future where AI replaces jobs, but AI also has the transformative potential to enhance human capabilities. For example, while ChatGPT makes for an efficient speech writing tool, good speech writers are also apt at conveying pertinent points by leaving things unsaid. At Temus, we foresee a future where AI acts as an exoskeleton, challenging us to solve more complex problems, and leading to the creation of more opportunities than those displaced.

In the tempest of rapid digital transformation, we must remember to shape a future that enhances, not diminishes, our human potential. The future of marketing lies at this thrilling intersection of creativity, technology/data and human sensibility. It's a future that promises an exciting journey of transformation, growth, and boundless potential.

This article was written by Marcus Loh, Director, Strategic Communications and Public Affairs, Temus. 

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