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How Marketers Can Upskill for the AI Economy

6 minute read
Jennifer Torres avatar
From content creation to predictive analytics and digital voice agents — artificial intelligence can be a powerful marketing tool if you know how to use it.

As a resource for researching and gaining insight from an audience, AI can generate large quantities of useful information — but humans must put it into context. And while future marketing students will likely be imbued with AI training and education, many of those already in the field are finding their skillset lacking.

Are Today’s Marketers Ill-Equipped for AI?

AI is a revenue generator. According to PWC, AI could contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy in 2030 – with $6.6 trillion likely to come from increased productivity.

But CMSWire recently reported that today’s marketing professionals remain widely unprepared and untrained for the advent of AI in their field.

It's a sentiment echoed by Appen’s 2022 AI and Machine Learning Report, which found one of the biggest hurdles for AI in enterprise is finding qualified talent who know how to successfully implement it. Because as wonderful as it may be — AI still needs a human helping hand with 97% of respondents reporting “human-in-the-loop evaluation is important for accurate model performance.”

Related Article: AI Writing Software for Marketing: The Basics, Part 1

5 Ways Marketers Can Upskill for the AI Economy

As CEO of the Institute for Global Futures, Dr. James Canton is a global futurist, social scientist, keynote presenter and author of "Future Smart: Managing the Game Changing Trends that will Transform Your World, The Extreme Future: The Top Trends That Will Reshape the World in the 21st Century and Techno Futures: How Leading Edge Innovations Will Transform Business in the 21st Century."

He offers five tips for marketers to help them better adapt to the AI Economy:

  1. AI for marketers is about understanding the marketing problem you trying to solve — so figure that out first.
  2. Ask yourself how smarter prediction and forecasts from using AI might make a difference in your marketing.
  3. Learn the general differences in business use cases of different types of AI including machine learning, deep learning and neural nets.
  4. Build an AI best practices list of who is doing what in AI that is impactful on the market or customers.
  5. Find an AI nerd and take him or her to lunch to help you learn about how AI solutions could help you — and how AI nerds could benefit from marketers.

Related Article: How Upskilling Can Help Offset Job Losses from AI 

Marketers Need IoT, Cloud, Blockchain Chops

Duties that are either mundane and repetitive or risk human safety — these are the tasks Katie King says AI handles best. As the published author of two books on the subject — “Using Artificial Intelligence in Marketing” in 2019 and “AI Strategy for Sales and Marketing” in 2022 — King is also chief executive officer of AI in Business.

“AI can handle the latter tasks without any physical danger, which is of course beneficial for reducing potential harm. As for the routine tasks, AI can often perform these much quicker and effectively than human staff ever could,” King said. “On one hand, this is great for business efficiency, but on the other it can pose a talent challenge.”

Because if a machine can do such tasks more effectively, where does that leave humans? Likely in need of upskilling — and a basic understanding of AI and of some accompanying technologies, like IoT, cloud and blockchain.

“That does not mean that everyone needs to learn how to code or program, but it will be valuable to have knowledge related to technology so that we can coexist with it effectively,” King said. “That said, this isn’t the first technological epoch we’ve lived through, so developing the right skills and capabilities is not as daunting as it may seem.”

Related Article: Can AI Marketing Transform Your Business?

Will Your Future Marketers Need Much AI Upskilling?

Because just as humans learned to use the internet, email, social media and smartphones, they will learn to use AI.

Learning Opportunities

“Today’s students and the students of the future are much more digitally minded than the generations who raised them,” King said. “While the rest of us had to adapt to developments like the internet and smart devices, this generation has never known a world without them.”

She believes that AI and tech skills will become a normal part of their curriculum moving forward and that by the time today’s primary school students enter the workforce, AI will be ingrained in the fabric of our working lives and become second nature to the next era of the workforce.

Marketing Success: Knowledge in Analytics, Data Science Only Helps

But what about today’s marketing professionals already in the marketplace?

Instead of looking at AI as a nemesis, look to it more as a way to enhance and empower your work and to help you better understand and make use of AI; and it doesn’t hurt to brush up your skills in analytics, data science and even math.

An analysis by LinkedIn revealed there are more job postings for digital marketers than any other position – with 50% of the top 10 job posts falling into the digital or media arena; clearly digital marketers are in demand.

But digital marketing is a broad term, and, according to LinkedIn, finding candidates with the right skill set is posing a significant challenge for many recruiters.

Explore Free AI Training Online

The online landscape is rich with opportunities to upskill and marketing certifications that can help you earn a better salary. To upskill your AI know-how, there are a number of free courses, guides and certificate programs focused on AI in marketing to discover. The following list represents a small portion of what’s available:

  • Google AI offers a free collection of guides and courses on both AI and ML.
  • Free courses on AI and marketing are available through LinkedIn Learning, and participants receive a certificate upon completion.
  • Elements of AI was created through a partnership between MinnaLearn and the University of Helsinki and offers a series of free courses in AI as well as an online community feature.
  • The Alan Turing Institute offers a plethora of videos, expert interviews and guides. The site also features a handy data science and AI glossary.
  • For a study of the fundamentals, application and possibilities of AI, try Intro to Artificial Intelligence from Udacity.
  • The Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute offers Intro to AI for Marketers, a free, live 30-minutes masterclass.

Related Article: If You Want to Succeed With Artificial Intelligence in Marketing, Invest in People

Conclusion: Human Touch in Marketing Not Going Anywhere

It’s important to remember there is one aspect of being human that AI cannot equal and that is your humanity – your emotions, your compassion and your ability to understand the emotions of other humans.

Creativity, passion, empathy, sincerity and the ability to form real relationships are characteristics of the human realm. So at least for the moment, technology cannot replace the all-important human touch.

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