How digital technology changed marketing and the role of marketers

I am writing this blog post while on my way to the Academy of Marketing’s conference, where I am joining a workshop looking at how Artificial Intelligence is impacting on marketing as a discipline – both the study and the practice of it. Because of this, lately, I have been thinking about a study that I did some time ago, with Lee Quinn, Sally Dibb, Lyndon Simkin and Mathew Analogbei.


In that study, we looked at how digital technologies are impacting on the role of marketers and the marketing function, in organisations. We conducted over 40 hours of interviews with very senior managers in client-side organizations, digital agencies and strategic marketing consultancies (titles included CEO and Global Head of Marketing and Innovation).


The managers expressed a sense of crisis, where the immediacy of technological developments such as big data, algorithmic decision making, digital analytics and others created a volatile period of disciplinary uncertainty. Marketers need the ability to source meaningful and actionable insights from data. However, as one of our expert interviewees said: “There aren’t enough people and businesses that understand how to use data.” So, there is huge pressure on marketing teams to either develop new skills, or to attract suitably qualified and experienced personnel. And this pressure comes from higher up in the organisation.


Another theme repeatedly expressed by the managers concerned the transformation of the marketing function. They felt that marketing’s role within the strategic planning process had become tenuous, and there had been an erosion of responsibility for decision-making.


The table below summarises the findings from the interviews. The full paper, entitled “Troubled waters: the transformation of marketing in a digital world” was published in the European Journal of Marketing. You can read am open access version of the paper, here.

table 2


Does this reflect your experience? And how will Artificial Intelligence further impact on marketing and marketers?


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