Feel for the telemarketers, whose job is the most computerisable, according to a seminal Oxford University study, The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation? (2013). Rest easy, for now, you marketing, PR and advertising managers: your roles rank 61st, 67th and 124th least computerisable respectively out of the 702 different jobs assessed by the researchers. The creative and inherently people-centric nature of our occupations shields us.

But don’t be complacent – like every other industry, ours is undergoing a wave of digitisation and automation. So before we lose our jobs to intelligent machines, let’s focus on making the most of the massive opportunities for agencies and brands to use this disruption to develop more effective ways of working and deliver ever better campaigns.

The marketing technology space alone is a hive of activity. There are applications for marketing automation, influencer tracking, retargeting, automated eDMs, campaign management and predictive analytics – to name just a few functions – aimed at helping you do more creative, relevant and efficient work. Look at www.growthverse.com for an overview of what’s available right now.

This technology can enable organisations to, for instance, monitor and assess campaign performance from beginning to end, and calculate return on investment (ROI) readily. Think about it: the ability to show quantifiable business value added by a specific campaign…of such things account teams’ dreams are made. A pan-European content marketing campaign I directed earlier this year, for a global information services company targeting the telecoms and financial services industries, had technology at its foundation that enabled us to prove a ten to one ROI in terms of new business generated. This level of analysis was enabled by integrating website analytics, marketing automation and customer relationship management to track people on their buyer journey.

Amid the seemingly unstoppable digitisation of business and everything else, making decisions about the right technology to invest in or use for campaigns is a major challenge. There is so much out there and the number of options is increasing rapidly. And that includes the ever-increasing array of smart platforms – such as new social media or apps, the internet of things, virtual reality and wearables – which offer even more ways to engage with people. It’s easy to get distracted by shiny new technologies, some of which are destined for failure. Remember MiniDiscs?

What’s needed is a coherent approach to assessing and potentially integrating new technology. This approach must also mitigate the risk of an over-reliance on automation and technology at the expense of creativity and a focus on people and business goals.

To embrace the machine without being smothered in return, you need to start with your business objectives and never lose sight of them. Simply put, if your organisation aims to deliver X to customers, then what technology can help you do X better? You must also consider people and processes. Map out who does what, and when, why and how they do it. Where are the digital skill gaps in your operation? What processes are ripe for automation? What changes to people and processes need to take place to make technology work as best it can within your organisation? Technology vendors you talk to, or their partners, should be able to help you answer some of these key questions.

Emerging technologies – and established technologies for that matter – present risks and rewards. As an industry, we need to exploit the automation and scale offered by new IT advances as much as possible. Of course it’s often better for organisations to let others cut themselves on the bleeding edge of technology, and learn from their experiences. But the bottom line is that new technologies – marketing or otherwise – are going to keep coming, and probably faster than ever. So, if you aren’t already, find a way to start riding the new wave of technological disruption or risk getting left behind.

Tony Mangan (Originally published in NBR)