When you read anything about artificial intelligence or machine learning these days, you can sort it into one of two buckets: either it’s the greatest innovation ever and will make all of your dreams come true, or it’s the end of work as we know it.
The truth is, it’s probably a little bit of both, and a little bit of neither.
We already wrote a few months back about how machine learning will impact marketers from a process and performance standpoint. But what about jobs? Everyone wants to know – is AI going to make me obsolete?
Like so many other things, the answer is that it depends.
It depends on what role(s) you are playing in your company today. It depends what systems or processes you use. It depends how willing you are to learn and to grow your skillset. And it depends how willing your company will be to invest in both the technology and your career.
Let’s break those each down a bit further.
AI and machine learning have the potential to do many of the tasks that human beings do today. And depending on who you ask, that potential is either right around the corner or a decade or two away. Both scenarios are scary, because it means that the tasks we train for today might not exist in ten years’ time.
So the key to understanding how to proceed is to learn as much as you can about what role AI will play. We already know that computers can do simple tasks better than we can, whether it be straightforward data entry, normal mathematical calculations, etc. AI and machine learning will quickly become good at more complex processes, like statistical analysis and prediction.
In the marketing world, roles like media planning and buying, campaign management, pricing, promotions, content, and more will be threatened. If nothing else, the nature of those roles will change.
Human beings will still be necessary, at least in the near term, for strategic planning, as well as the development, installation, and maintenance of those systems that will be set up to improve marketing processes.
Systems and Processes
The roles that are most likely to be eliminated in your organization depend a lot on the types of systems that get developed. Until marketing programs are designed and trained on how to take over your role, your role is safe. And unless you work at a large organization with a huge R&D budget, odds are you are going to have to wait for another company to create the systems that your company will end up adopting.
So the reality is, the smaller your company, the less likely it is that AI is coming for your job anytime soon. Because the systems that get created in these early days of AI adoption are likely to be more expensive, and more complex than what will come later.
Learn and Grow
Either way, the time to adapt is now. Stop thinking about your job, and start thinking about your role. Each of our jobs is made up of a number of different tasks. AI will eliminate certain tasks, but it will also create new ones.
Start training now for the new tasks that your company is going to need you to work on. You can make yourself indispensable by learning the skills that no one else in your company is capable of.
Learn how to work with and manage data. Learn how to design the formulas and train the programs that are going to be used to implement these new technologies. And learn soft skills like people management, strategy, and communication that will always be in demand.
Much of what comes next will rely as much on your company as it will on you. Some companies will invest in new technology early because they feel that it will give them a competitive advantage. Others will wait for the technology to prove its effects before they take the time to deploy it themselves.
Similarly, some companies will invest in retraining and preparing their workforce for the coming change. Others will be eager to downsize their teams and take advantage of the promised savings and efficiency that the next technology revolution will bring.
You can get a head start on that future reality by talking to your manager today about what it will mean for your organization. And the choice will be yours to either take the necessary steps to solidify your role in your current organization or prepare for a new role at the next organization.