Change is one of the few constants we can count on in business. The question we all face is not, will change happen, but rather how can we adapt to the changes that are coming? Artificial Intelligence, as we all know, has accelerated the pace of change in many industries, and marketing is no exception. The capabilities marketers have at their disposal have increased tremendously as a result of the evolution of AI. However, staying relevant in this ever-changing business environment requires an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of AI and an intentional approach to learning.

In this episode, Jake Moskowitz and his guests will break down what an AI-powered future will look like and how to ensure you are prepared for it.

In order to better understand the impact AI has on marketing, Ben Harrell, Chief Marketing Officer at Priceline.com, breaks down how AI will fit into our future landscape and where its limitations may leave room for subjectivity.

Rishad Tobaccowala, Senior Executive at Publicis, paints a picture of what the future of work will look like and discusses the necessary steps to maintaining relevancy in your career.

Listen in as Jake and his guests explore the FIVE steps to ensuring your place in an AI-driven world is successful and secure.

The Five List:

  1. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of AI
  2. Take an intentional approach to learning
  3. Ensure you are setting yourself up for success
  4. Foster forward thinking and innovative ways of working
  5. Recognize that algorithms are a reflection of your company

Rishad Tobaccowala, Senior Advisor to the Publicis Groupe and author of the best-selling book: “Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data”

Ben Harrell, Chief Marketing Officer of Priceline.com

Jeremy Lockhorn, Global Head of Partner Solutions at Ericsson Emodo, speaker, mobile marketing expert

The Five podcast is presented by Ericsson Emodo and the Emodo Institute, and features original music by Dyaphonic and the Small Town Symphonette. Social media and promotional content was composed and conducted by Lyon Solntsev. This episode was edited by Justin Newton and produced by Robert Haskitt, Liz Wynnemer, and Jake Moskowitz.


Transcript of AI S6: AI and the Future of Work

Rishad:

If you are not spending one hour a day learning new skills, you’re going to become irrelevant faster than you know. You are responsible for your own career, you must operate like a company of one, you are responsible for optimizing your skill set.

Jake:

Let’s talk AI. Welcome to FIVE, the podcast that breaks down AI for marketers. This is Episode Six, AI and the future of work. I’m Jake Moskowitz.

We talk a lot about the opportunities and challenges of AI in the marketing world. And that’s what this podcast is about. But this time, we’re going to talk about you, your work, your career, your future in the AI powered marketing world. And this episode is unique for another reason. We’ve put it together in conjunction with the four A’s particularly to sync with the four A’s Decisions 2021 Conference taking place January 25th and 26th. If you’re not attending the conference, you’re probably wondering what that means. Well, mostly it means that you get a little something extra as you still get to tap into the conversation, and you get to hear from multiple headline speakers. If you are attending, you get to dive in a little early, or in a way that frees you up a little bit. Virtual conferences typically mean videos, screen, share. By expanding the conversation in a podcast, 4A’s attendees get a chance to get up, move around and step away from the screen while they stay connected. Walk the dog, go pick up the kids, get started on dinner.

The theme of this year’s conference is the power to change. So together with our friends at the 4A’s, we decided to tackle what change means as we face a future in which AI plays a very big role in marketing. What does change mean for in house marketing organizations and ad agencies, the organizations they build, how they run their companies? What does change mean for marketers, how we plan our careers, what skills we need to develop and how we go about developing them? If you plan to work in the future, you’re probably going to want to listen closely.

There’s a lot of change happening in business and we hear continuously about how AI is changing so many industries. One of the great things about being in marketing is that marketing will always exist. There will always be companies needing to drive awareness and purchase of products and services. There will always be an element of art in how we communicate a product, impact emotions and create memorability. So in the face of an AI driven future, the question for marketers isn’t whether our work has a future, but rather how our work, our careers will change.

It’s definitely not too early for this conversation. In this episode, I’ll talk with the Forward Thinking CMO of a major in house marketing organization about the wide range of roles and responsibilities within his team. So many of them are largely built around AI. And that’s already in place today. Will marketing functions be automated by machines? Yes, no question. A lot of them already are. But those automated tasks typically make marketing easier and actually make some marketing possible, things you couldn’t do at all otherwise. The more we automate with AI, the more the current roles will evolve, and the more AI knowledge and skill sets will be in demand. We’ll also see entirely new roles spring up as a result of AI. Understanding that evolution and grasping the possibilities will give you a serious competitive advantage among your marketing peers.

Once you understand the role you can and will need to play to maximize the value of AI, you can set up programs and organizations that take full advantage of the tools and data assets you have available. And as a marketer, you can put yourself in a position to thrive as a future leader. The fact that you’re listening to this podcast is a pretty clear sign that you already have the interest in an AI powered future. So let’s get into it.

What can you do now to move the ship forward? Well, brace for impact. My guests have brought a full cargo bay of suggestions. When you sort them all out and roll them all up, they fit into a few densely insightful containers. Let’s see, it looks like there are 1,2,3,4, 5!

First, understand what machines aren’t good at so you can focus on developing those strengths. There are a lot of things machines aren’t good at and fortunately, they tend to be the things we are good at. Second, view your career as a company of one, the same way a company needs to constantly evolve and refine its strategy to ensure long term success so must each of us in our careers. Third, find a company that gives you a chance to develop and thrive in an AI framework. Fourth, if you’re a business leader, provide a work environment that encourages critical thinking. And finally, understand that algorithms are a reflection of your company. We’re tempted to view AI as the next big horse race but we need to remember that the same algorithms won’t necessarily work for every company, we need to ensure our company is deeply reflected in our algorithms.

Ben Herros, the Chief Marketing Officer of Priceline.com. Ben, I’ve been looking forward to this. Thanks for joining the pod.

Ben:

Thank you. Glad to be here. Appreciate the invitation.

Jake:

Could you maybe give us a quick intro into who you are?

Ben:

Sure. So my background is really in analytics. I started working at Priceline, and really right out of my undergrad at Yale, and, you know, started doing financial analytics. So I did that for several years, had a lot of fun, worked on a lot of great projects at Priceline. And I had the opportunity to go do more financial analytics at Booking.com. Booking’s headquartered in Amsterdam. And ultimately, after about three and a half years, jumped to the marketing side. I think for a lot of people that sounds like a strange down from finance to marketing. But I wasn’t doing accounting, I was doing analytics. And a lot of performance marketing, in particular, is analytics. So maybe not quite as strange to jump as it sounds. So I guess I’m an A typical marketing leader, and that I have a marketing background, I’ve got an analytics background, but it’s worked okay for me, and people on my team, at least publicly, don’t complain about it. So I’ll take that.

Jake:

Tell me about where machine learning impacts marketing the most the way you run it today.

Ben:

There are a lot of places in marketing and Priceline where machine learning has a big role. And I think in some of these places, it’s going to have an even bigger role in the future. But you think about things like personalization of an experience. And that can be an ad experience, or it can be an experience on the website, and someone called our customer service line, machine learning can certainly help people have a better experience, more tailored experience. Machine learning is helpful in pricing, trying to understand what’s the optimal price, certainly from a marketing perspective, setting bids and setting targeting. And a lot of these auction based formats are a place where machine learning can be very helpful. Maybe the last thing I’ll call out is attribution. Marketers like to talk a lot about attribution, because that’s how we keep sore. But I think the reality is some amount of marketing spend is still a, you know, let’s hope this works. But that amount is a lot less than what it used to be, we can measure a lot better than we have in the past, with machine learning, that’s going to keep getting better.

Jake:

Where’s machine learning not impactful for marketers? Where’s it falling behind? Or where might it not be possible to support marketing?

Ben:

If you want to ask where machine learning doesn’t help, where AI doesn’t help, it’s really where you don’t have enough data. Brand marketing, in some ways, you don’t have that much data. But machine learning needs a lot of data to work with. And you just may not have it on brand marketing to the same extent as you do in many performance marketing channels.

Jake:

So you came up through the analyst function, is your career path a career path of the future? What’s the interplay between analytics and AI? In some ways, is AI a replacement for analytics? Or is it an enhancement to analytics? In some ways, it feels like, to me, AI is the new analytics.

Ben:

All depends on how you look at it. I guess the answer to all good questions is it depends. I don’t think though, that AI is the next level of analytics, there’s certainly a lot of overlap there. I would say AI is very basic analytics, a lot less intelligence, but with a lot faster iterations. Now it takes time to build up an AI system, you need a lot of data. Ultimately, good analytics, you need a lot of data as well. But a great analyst can look at a data set and come up with some great conclusions based on that data. And that’s really valuable. AI is going to look at some data and come up with a huge number of potential paths and conclusions. A lot of those tests will be stupid, right? You can look at them, you or I would look at that and say this is a terrible idea. We would never test that. But AI can’t necessarily tell but it’s a terrible idea. As long as it’s achieving the goals that it was programmed to achieve, it’s going to test them. It almost doesn’t matter if most of them are stupid ideas, it’s going to find some great ideas.

So AI’s benefit, it’s not that it’s so smart. It’s not that it’s so fast. It’s not the answer all of that, though, is that AI is going to optimize for whatever it’s programmed to optimize for. If you say I want an algorithm that’s going to maximize revenue, right, it will do that, and it will do it well. But you may find that by maximizing revenue, you’re giving a bad experience to customers, and they’re not happy, that may have longer term consequences to revenue, volume to a bunch of other things that you don’t want. But your algorithm is not feeling that.