It’s the “mathmen” that are most at risk from the robots

Last week I had the pleasure of chairing the “Future of Agencies” panel at Manchester Digital’s annual Digital Revolution event. It was an engaging session (even if I say so myself) with four great panelists:

Aaron McGrath of Bing Ads

Nicky Unsworth of BJL

David Edmundson-Bird of MMU

Jon Kershaw of Havas

…and we covered a wide variety of topics, including recruiting talent, retaining talent, developing talent (ok, there was a lot of talk about building stable teams!) product mix, remuneration and clients taking work in-house.

However, it was a surprise comment prediction from Aaron that got my thinking. His concern was the industry’s obsession with metrics, accountability and the rise of the “mathmen”, and how this is removing the focus from creativity and big ideas.

I don’t disagree with Aaron, and having run a digital agency, I understand the challenge of blending creativity with the need to deliver hard metrics for a client. But let’s take this in another direction.

With all the buzz around machine learning, A.I. and cries of “the robots will take all our jobs” I wonder if it’s the metric focussed marketer that should most fear replacement.

Following Facebook’s F8 event, we’re seeing an increase in chatbots supporting online customer service, from the tacobot to Spring’s personal shopping assitant.

BotsWith the Statsbot already providing Google Analytics, Salesforce and Mixpanel updates to slack users, is it really a huge leap for these to evolve into rules-based campaign management tools?

With all the “logic” being automated the focus should shift to human creativity and back to the big ideas.

Good call Aaron.


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