We've been debating in the office how marketing professionals can blend what they know in their head and their heart with what the computer is telling them. There is no doubt that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are certainly helping to manage process and make strategic decisions easier to take. But the more we venture into the new world, the more we understand we must qualify things.
Is what the machine's telling us the right thing to do? And how should we go about managing this conundrum of whether to trust what we see?
Our debate on blending human skill and marketing automation can be summarised with five points:
1. Park your bias
We believe the world operates in a certain way. We know what works when it comes to writing compelling copy for an email and sending it at a time when people are most likely to open and read it. Yet it's possible to see a spanner in the data works - some insight that challenges what we hold to be true. So, we are learning that we sometimes have to put pre-conceived ideas aside.
2. Consider what the brain can do
There is no way a human can crunch hundreds, let alone millions of data points, that is after all why robots have been developed to fight the deluges of cyber attacks. But that doesn't mean we can't solve a problem the data presents us with. It's obvious to say but machines can't do critical thinking, and yet it's easy to think it will. We can't switch off the brain cells and rely on technology - we will never innovate if we do.
3. Use your judgement expertly
That brings us to our next point. We have to apply judgement to the data in front of us. But we have to do it in such a way that we don't let our bias of expertise take over. There's a balance to find - use your judgement expertly, don't judge like an expert.
4. Use technology to navigate complex data
Machines will generate data. So much data it can be hard to know what it the right and the wrong data to follow. The key is to look at how the data helps you answer the problem your marketing brief tackles. If it's data for data's sake then you know to discount it. If it's possible it might hold an answer you should test it. Take the story of GB Rowing for example. 'Will it make the boat go faster?' was the obsession of the team after it came last in the 1996 Olympic Final. Four years later the obsession translated into a gold medal but only because every change they made passed the test of making the boat go faster. Focus is the word of the day.
Above all, we have learnt that when everything is so new there will probably be someone who has tried a different approach and failed, refined and succeeded. Seek them out. Learn from them and then apply the inbound techniques to your world. Have the courage to fail because actually if you've applied human critical thinking and the right data to the problem you might not fall as hard as you think.