A long time researching and writing about the wild importance of data analytics on the future of the marketing profession has led me to an inescapable conclusion:
Data scientists will soon take a lot of jobs away from marketers.
The reasons are simple:
- There’s already more data produced and mined every day than anyone can make sense of. Business gets this and is moving to incorporate data analytics into every facet of the organization.
- Virtually every marketing technology of note (and there are many) is either a data analytics solution or a solution almost wholly reliant on reams of data.
- Marketers simply don’t have the required skills to leverage these techs, or the underlying data. Unfortunately, that seems to be true at every level of the marketing organization.
Net-net, the ecosystem is changing, and the winds do not favor marketers with no data science game.
Here are three areas in which I believe traditional marketers will soon be displaced by a new breed of data scientists cum marketers.
When mass need for an undersupplied skill set, in this case data science, comes to affect the market, enterprises have three options: build internal capacity, partner with people who do have the capacity, or outsource it.
If you want to build a data science-driven marketing competency in-house, you need to train up your current marketers or hire new ones. It’s tough to teach your average marketer differential partial equations, so I’d give the job to a data scientist and teach them the 4Ps and Facebook.
When an enterprise decides to partner around data marketing, it’ll be because the other guy has specific competencies they don’t have and/or don’t want to develop (e.g., the enterprise sees the importance of data marketing, but developing the in-house competency isn’t core to their business).
But even if they do go the partnership route, eventually that enterprise will need an in-house pivot who’s fluent in data to interface with their partner. That’s a new skill set required in a job that currently marketers often hold and will likely lose as a result.
One way or another, if they’re not building their own capacity, enterprises are looking for high-performing, headache-free solutions, not half-answers from marketers that don’t get data.
Digital marketing agencies are well-positioned to fit enterprises’ looming outsource needs for data-driven marketing, if they can build the omnichannel content marketing machines powered by robust data analytics that business will require.
To this end, I think you’ll see more data scientists, perhaps a little bored with their current roles (often in finance, health, or academia), make the move to the agency world as employees, partners, and founders. Done well, this combination of technical and creative skills has the potential to morph traditional agencies into marketing-scientists-as-a-service.
One of the things I think top agencies will get very good at is using the same marketing technology solutions that business is currently underutilizing to deliver high-value findings that will help business understand, measure, and optimize the customer journey.
Irony doth reside in the martech universe.
Look carefully and you’ll note a good number of its occupants huddled together in data analytics clusters. Look again and you’ll see that pretty much every other martech entrant relies on some type of data analytics to do its thing. Nowhere else would you expect to find more qualified data scientists cum marketers, or data analytics solutions better attuned to marketers, right?
Read some of the stuff that VB and others have published lately on how martech users feel about the marketing analytics solutions that vendors are putting out (spoiler alert: it ain’t pretty).
The thing is, my good martechs: How can I believe that your solution will help me understand and service my user when your product doesn’t even seem to understand or service me? It’s a wide gap that your customers are struggling mightily with. C-suiters and investors will follow.
It won’t be easy for martechs to recruit high-end data scientists either — demand for data scientists’ services is and will be great, and salaries will be high. Expect the top minds in the marketing data science niche to go to the big marketing clouds, global consultancies, and a handful of well-funded startups.
Martechs — and pretty much every other industry outside of finance and health — looking to draw in data marketing talent will be left beholden to the skills of recruiters and the whim of new data science grads.
Read the studies and it’s difficult to refute that data science is emerging as a core competency for marketers. Think about that and it becomes evident that there are going to be some changes as a result.
It’s clear that there’s a gap between what marketers want to do, the tools they have to work with, and the training they need to be successful.
For these reasons I believe that, not long from now, serious data science chops will be a required skill set for most marketing roles, and that’s going to leave a lot of current marketers out of work.