The future of marketing needs tech, but let’s not forget about the humans.

Preparing for the future.

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Many of us in the marketing profession talk about preparing our organisations for the future.

Marketing needs to be brought fully into the data-driven, tech-enabled age in which we live.

This invariably turns to talk of technology. This is appropriate given that marketing needs to be brought fully into the data-driven, tech-enabled age in which we live.

However, in my research on topics such as the digital transformation of marketing and advanced marketing analytics, as well as conversations with marketing professionals and leaders in organisations large and small, I’ve come to believe that a critical aspect of preparing organisations for the future of marketing has not received enough attention. In all of the excitement about tech it seems that we have tended to overlook humans.

Yes, humans.

Be honest. What seems more interesting? Having a conversation with colleagues about things like the amazing possibilities of marketing automation systems and artificial intelligence? Or having a discussion about your marketing team’s skills and capabilities vis-a-vis readiness for the future?

I doubt I need to do research to know that most of us would likely think the tech-focused chat is the more appealing one. But the latter–the people-focused one–is undeniably also important. How can we ready ourselves for the future of marketing, which does involve a lot of tech, without thinking about the people in our organisations (and ourselves!) and the extent to which we have the requisite skill sets?

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About the author.

Andrew Stephen is L’Oréal Professor of Marketing & Associate Dean of Research at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. He also co-hosts Kantar’s Future Proof podcast.

He leads the Marketing Faculty at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, where he is also the Associate Dean of Research and Director of the Oxford Future of Marketing Initiative (a partnership between leading academics and marketing-focused companies that uses relevant research-based approaches to influence the future of marketing practice).

Andrew is particularly interested in issues that lie at the intersection of marketing strategy, new technologies and consumer behavior. He is also the co-host of the Future Proof podcast, a series about contemporary issues in marketing produced by Kantar and the Saïd Business School.

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