Why future marketers need technology expertise

SOURCE: Cindy Ord/Getty Images/AFP
Digital transformation has disrupted marketing careers, but upskilling will help professionals stay relevant.

By Yasmin Ahmad Kamil 

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The future of marketing is uncertain. Digital transformation has meant that we’re seeing tectonic shifts occurring in the workplace, and the marketing landscape is no different. Automation may fuel anxiety about job uncertainty, but marketers should be heartened to note that robots will not completely wipe out opportunities in the field. 

Reports suggest there will be greater demand for marketers in jobs of the future.

A World Economic Forum (WEF) report — Jobs of Tomorrow: Mapping Opportunity in the New Economy — said emerging professions reflect the continuing importance of human interaction in the new economy, giving rise to greater demand for roles in marketing, sales and content production, among others.

And marketing professionals need to be ready to embrace changes.

David Rice, of Schulich School of Business in York University, notes that dramatic changes are occurring in marketing, adding that digital transformation in the industry is changing both jobs and the training required to succeed.

Dr Rice is the School’s Master of Marketing programme director and an associate professor. 

His research is aimed at understanding how modern technology can be used in the application of marketing research, while he also serves as the editor-in-chief of the Future of Marketing digital magazine, which is run by the students of the Master of Marketing programme.

future of marketers
M. David Rice is the Schulich School of Business’ Master of Marketing programme director as well as an associate professor. Source: Marshall David Rice

“Marketing technology is increasing job opportunities within the industry,” said Dr Rice, adding that technology is changing the types of jobs that a marketer might do. 

“With advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), marketers now have to become better ‘intermediaries’ and manage the interaction between the marketing function and AI,” he told U2B via email.


Areas for upskilling for future marketers

The business environment may be rapidly evolving, but marketing professionals don’t have to let their insecurities run amok about the future of work if they take steps toward advancing their skill set. 

Dr Rice believes that marketers need to become conversant with new technologies in marketing, such as AI, ML, augmented and virtual reality, facial recognition, voice search, CGI influencers, market automation, and a host of others.

Meanwhile, in WEF’s report, some of the suggested areas for upskilling for those in marketing, sales and content roles include digital marketing, SEO, and strategy of content marketing, to name a few.

While marketing is a wide and multidisciplinary area, Dr Rice opined that marketing specialists will have a greater opportunity than generalists in the future of work. 

“I tell my students to choose a technology area, such as augmented reality, AI, or others and become experts in the field. I believe that specialist knowledge will significantly enhance one’s job prospects in a rapidly changing world,” he explained.

There is great value in getting a graduate degree from a well-respected university, said Dr Rice, adding that many of the skills marketers have, including critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and research skills, are essential skills to have in a variety of job positions outside of marketing.

While no one can predict with 100% certainty what the future of marketing will look like, our radically changing work landscape means staying relevant and employed in the marketing industry requires upskilling, or risk falling behind.