There are many blogs and headlines focused on how new tech is disrupting the marketing industry, but there is actually another area being disrupted that is just as important. Led by Millennials, new talent is moving unapologetically into tech companies from media.
The group of people who grew up on the tail end of Prodigy and AOL Online is now experiencing, just like the rest of us, the proliferation of digital technology in mainstream life. However, these people have an added appreciation for the new stuff, because they can remember, if just barely, a time in that it did not exist. These Millennials are therefore much more likely to appreciate the importance of a new technology and jump on it more quickly than older talent, who do not understand it, or younger talent, who take it for granted.
Many of these Millennials began their professional careers after the first Internet bubble blew up. They learned (and helped to create) the power of digital media and watched legacy industries try to keep up with tech. Innovation was occurring away from places like music companies and moving into agencies. The brands that wanted to explore digital media did so with a vengeance and reaped the rewards of the educated risk.
This was the time of big data. Mainstream audiences became separated from media. The entire commercial landscape changed from one of media buying and planning to one of consumer buying and planning. Digital buying and planning were now done in two separate steps, and the roles between agency trading desks and programmatic teams became much more pronounced. Companies that were slow to learn about big data and audience buying found themselves losing control of their strategies and insights. Within a few years, automation had completely changed the relationship between the consumer and producer. Traditional media became available programmatically.
The people who helped agencies become the powerhouse of this era began to notice another shift as AI (Artificial Intelligence) allows for new levels of automation at scale. The idea of personalizing the customer journey through automated procedures is becoming a reality. Agencies will have new opportunities to focus on the aspects of business that cannot be automated, namely random creativity, consumer insights, and strategic planning.
However, the talent that helped to build agencies is correctly moving away from roles that fuse certain types of data-driven creativity. These people understand that companies are looking to streamline operations as much as possible. They understand that AI-driven processes are very attractive to businesses in every industry – robots do not make random human errors, they do not take sick days and they do not require the overhead that traditional manpower requires.
What happens to talent in this new era of artificial intelligence will define the way that we do business in the years to come. Where will humans fit in now that all rote operations are set to be fulfilled by automated processes and programs? The answer is yet to come, but the disruption to talent is obvious – and it will only continue to become more obvious as time goes on.