Cognitive Technology Won’t Take Away Your Job (It Will Make You Better at It)

May 11, 2017 Liz Alton

cognitive technologies marketing transformation

Cognitive technology will go the extra mile for your content. Cognitive-driven algorithms automatically fill in the gaps of missing pixels in partial images, saving graphic designers hours of time in edits and revisions. Smart marketing tools powered by machine learning concurrently process thousands of pieces of data and, in just a few hours, help you plan campaigns for various audiences and predict outcomes. AI-powered chatbots take in information from interested customers and point them toward the right product or landing page, without them ever talking to a human being.

The constantly evolving tech landscape and its role driving marketing transformation leaves the modern marketer asking: at what point does cognitive technology make you better, and when does it make you obsolete?

But Seriously, Is a Computer Going to Replace Me?

A recent Gartner study shared what was, to me, a fairly shocking statistic: by 2020, the average person will spend more time talking to bots than to their spouses. On one level, it’s a testament to how sophisticated technology has become, and on another, how disintermediated the marketing process has gotten. In our push for ever-increasing efficiency and the desire to leverage technology to deliver fantastic experiences at scale, the human element sometimes gets lost in translation.

But a chatbot—even one that’s targeted to me specifically, based on years of personalized data—will never take the place of chatting with an engaging, empathetic husband. And even the best technology can never remove the human touch from the process of creating engaging, moving campaigns.

Today’s brand-consumer relationships rely on things that go beyond what technology can ever do. Telling powerful stories, fully evoking emotional connections with consumers, and incorporating the human dimension into complex problem solving requires the filter of a creative mind. But if you’re not intimidated by it, cognitive technologies can dramatically enhance your work. Informed intuition can blend data and creativity together in ways that more incisively get to what consumers want and provide marketers with another level of assurance that their creative leaps of faith will hit the mark.

Young woman with fairy lights

Image attribution: Clay Banks

The Role of Creativity in Marketing Transformation

As Drew Neisser wrote for AdAge, “Marketing technology has done wonders for the practice of marketing. It has refined, streamlined and taken the guesswork out of some formerly nebulous areas of the industry. But martech and the need to support ideas with data have increasingly pitted marketing against its roots: the art of creativity.”

It’s a good summary of one of the core tensions in today’s marketing landscape. A field that used to be more art than science is adapting to an onslaught of data. And at this intersection of creativity and data is where today’s real marketing innovation is happening. Cognitive technology brings the information to the table; the right marketing talent can then spin those insights into gold.

When you’re comfortable with the process of bringing data into the creative process, you set yourself up for the kind of breakthrough, creative thinking that leads to a win. Neisser goes on to write, “Research on both luck and creativity demonstrates that a person can, in fact, create his or her own good luck by boosting the odds of encountering it.”

Integrating Cognitive Tech Into Your Work

In what concrete ways can marketers integrate cognitive technology into their work to be more effective, while also future-proofing their careers?

Understand Cognitive Technologies

Cognitive technologies include a range of different systems. Machine learning uses algorithmic thinking to find patterns and more quickly process data. Predictive analytics use past behavior and other data to effectively forecast future trends. AI applies these tools to different elements of our experiences, whether it’s creating a chat interface that can help diagnose an illness or powering an immersive experience that’s experienced through virtual-reality platforms.

Stay informed about this emerging class of technologies. It’s growing so explosively that the technologies we’re working to master today will be quickly outdated, and the platforms making headlines tomorrow haven’t even been imagined today. Get comfortable experimenting with cognitive technologies, and be an early adopter. The more fluidly these tools fit into your marketing process, the more easily you’ll be able to create unforgettable experiences, develop cutting edge strategies, and help lead your companies or clients into the next stage of marketing. It’s this fluid grasp and fluency with cognitive technologies that will lower your inhibitions, take away a fear of the unknown, and allow you to capture the benefits of creative thinking.

Embrace the Futurecasting Potential of Data

There’s a marketing transformation underway, and it’s due in large part to our relationship with data. At one time in the not too distant past, simply having data on our customers and campaign performance was an important competitive advantage. Today, a strategy informed by data is the minimum threshold for successful marketing, but it’s not enough to fully differentiate you.

Cognitive technologies allow you to blend demographic information, behavioral insights, and campaign goals together to get recommendations on what will resonate with your audience. When you connect creative problem solving and a foundation of data, you’re able to push the line forward on the experiences and ideas you create. Using cognitive technologies to help you take a forward-looking approach to your industry, products, and audiences can give you an edge in anticipating trends and speaking to emerging needs.

Use Predictive Analytics and Machine Learning to Find Effective Storytelling Patterns

Today’s customers don’t want messaging or content; they want stories. And while storytelling feels like a wholly creative art, in large part the way we process stories is informed by data. Consider the core hero’s journey Joseph Campbell outlines is his iconic book Heart of Darkness, or the story archetypes found throughout mythic tales at different points in history.

Cognitive tools can help you find the same patterns in your own data. Imagine what would be possible if you could, for example, measure the emotional reactions your audience has to specific content and then use that in dynamic feedback loops to develop more evocative marketing campaigns. That technology already exists today, and it’s only the beginning of what’s possible. From emotional impact to visual messaging to which individuals your audience identifies with, next-generation technology can help you identify the patterns that will connect with your audience and move them to action.

While the headlines are still full of people asking, “Will automation take our jobs?”, smart marketers are asking a different question. By determining how to use cognitive tools to empower creative thinking and make their own luck, innovators are paving the way for breakthrough thinking and more informed stories, campaigns, and connections with their audiences.

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Featured image attribution: Tommy Tong

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