Recently, Scott Brinker posted this graphic and said, “I'm fascinated by supposed dichotomies in marketing and martech. How do you create a marketing org that is both automated and human?”
As marketing technology experts, we can’t simply wonder about how this balance between automation and humanity works—we need to live it, sell it, and teach it in order to survive!
A basic and straightforward approach to finding the right blend of automation and manual human work is to play to each area’s strengths, and have one complement the others’ weaknesses. With this combination, you have a recipe for magic.
As people, one of our big advantages is the capacity to understand others. At the end of the day, marketing is about communicating value to other humans, and to influence the attitudes and behaviours of specific humans (your target audiences).
Computers and artificial intelligence are nowhere near capable of successfully appreciating art, empathizing, mimicking emotion or being reliably funny. (However, research into General AI has begun to pave the way for this, and the idea of machines passing for human has been the central theme of movies like Blade Runner or Ex Machina.)
Humans also process information and make decisions in a much different way than computers because we also compute emotions Your instinct, your critical thinking skills, your ability to detect subtle patterns in the environment or others (“I don’t like the way she’s looking at him”) is unique to the biological processing system known as your brain.
Where we fall short: repetitive task perfection, data processing and scale.
If you need to do something over and over and over again, such as send the same message to 100 people, chances are you’ll get tired after a while, mess some stuff up, need a break, etc. That is where an automation platform can help.
Consider the task of needing to send a written message to 10,000 people. A single person couldn’t hope to do this alone—you’d need an army of scribes, and couriers. It would take months to produce the letters and deliver them. But an invention such as the printing press automates a huge amount of the work.
And in the digital era, all that work can be done with the press of a few buttons. An email blast to 10,000 subscribers can be put together in an afternoon by one person, if necessary.
Data processing is more or less the same idea, moving in the other direction. If 10,000 people send you 1,000 pages of information all at the same time, if all you had was pen and paper to work with you might spend your whole life sorting through it all.
Well, when people from all over the world visit a popular website or app, their machines send that site or app huge amounts of data every second! Without technology that can blast through a million data points in a fraction of a second, understanding any of it would be impossible.
In a nutshell, technology helps scale the power of any single human.
One person, or a team of the right persons, can execute the work of literal communication armies, if they have the right technology at their disposal.
That is a pretty magical idea, if you think about it.
But in order to achieve efficiency and scale with MarTech, it’s not enough to simply have a solid MarTech Stack and a team of marketing operations minions. Obviously, the two need to work together successfully—they need to give and receive and understand what the other is doing in order to make the most of the relationship. In marketing, the best case scenarios have an end product that reaches the hearts and minds of other people—this is the real magic!
But this is where most organizations struggle. Many people are only familiar with the very basic computer-human communication bridge: the Graphical User Interface (GUI). You know, the stuff on the computer or smartphone screen.
Our agency helps organizations by augmenting them with the right humans for the magical human-technology dance. Our mission is: “To elevate customer experiences through the orchestration of technologies, people, processes, content and data. We strive to enable companies across different industries to deliver effective marketing operations services and strategies on a global scale.”
The “orchestration” bit is key—the right mix of people and technology, working and operating with the right processes. The services we offer serve as a good example for some of these needs.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” — Arthur C. Clarke
Regardless of where any organization stands today, the signs have been clear for a while now: computer enabled technology will only continue to accelerate. While the futurists debate on the ifs and whens of whether humanity itself will be overshadowed by our electronic creations, one thing is certain: everything is only going to get more magical.