This year at Scott Logic I’ve been caught up in all the talk around Generative AI technologies: how they work, the opportunities, the risks and how to mitigate them. Attending the CMO Summit in SW London this week was my first opportunity to genuinely think about it as a potential user, and consider how it could help my Marketing & Communications team.
Jason Bradbury (of ‘The Gadget Show’ fame – at least for people of my age!) gave a highly engaging talk on AI, complete with many references to Back To The Future and hoverboards. Leaders from WPP then gave some practical advice to consider all of your current tasks and processes, what level of automation and emotion goes into them, and where AI could potentially help you do them more efficiently.
That in itself is a very useful exercise that you might not do – at least not with the same vehemence – if you weren’t considering investing in a new technology.
As I mentally started working my way through the tasks that my team performs, I found myself evaluating our processes in an entirely new light:
How much value do we really add by interrogating the data to identify trends, that the data itself does not show?
How could we make some of our highly skilled tasks such as brand copywriting and design – which rely on years of practice and experience to perfect – more mimicable if not entirely replicable?
How do we quantify and explain the level of sentiment or empathy that goes into areas like internal communications? Could a more scientific explanation help us engage stakeholders if not outsource it to AI?
The inspirational AI talks were followed by less exciting but much more practical talks by leaders of the marketing world. As I listened to their talks on topics including marketing as a growth enabler and content strategy, I realised that I was applying the same evaluation to those areas too:
Marketing & Communications are areas that everybody thinks they can do to some extent, because everybody can write an email and post on social media, right?! It can be hard to quantify to colleagues in other areas of the business the value that your team adds, and get them to appreciate your team’s skills and experience.
If I were to evaluate all of the tasks that go into content marketing, using the same scale WPP shared in their talk, which of them could be turned into a series of data inputs and prompts for an AI to take care of?
There are the obvious ones, such as market research to identify topics where:
There is a growing interest among our target audience,
There is a lack of high quality content, and
Scott Logic can make a valuable contribution.
An AI tool could in theory be trained to monitor search trends and results, and cross reference that with a list of Scott Logic’s areas of expertise.
However, could it do the next part, which involves identifying an internal SME, briefing them to produce a thought leadership piece, and editing or reviewing that content to make sure it stays true to the Scott Logic brand of going beyond the hype and offering pragmatic advice? I am sure some of our highly skilled developers would love to prove me wrong, but I struggle to envision a world where AI can be trained to apply that level of judgement and creativity.
Nevertheless, it has made me re-evaluate not only our processes but also our internal stakeholder engagement, which is one of the most challenging areas of Marketing & Communications. Could we explain the value that the function creates in terms of inputs you could feasibly give an AI and outputs you couldn’t?
In an environment where Marketing & Communications feel under pressure to show its value as a strategic function, it’s easy to fall into the trap of obsessing over metrics like the number of leads, visits, impressions etc. When you think about it, these are outputs that an AI tool could generate: bots can get you web traffic and form fills, and most advertising platforms now offer AI-assisted optimisers. Could we do ourselves more of a favour by reporting on the more human outcomes, such as a white paper written by a senior leader that has provided practical advice while staying true to our brand?
In short, while I haven’t identified any tasks that I can hand over to AI today, the thought process has made me evaluate our processes in a new and incredibly valuable way. I’d like to thank the CMO Summit organisers and speakers for a thoroughly thought-provoking day.