‘Artificial Intelligence (AI)’, ‘Machine Learning (ML)’, ‘Big Data’, ‘Analytics’, ‘CRM’, ‘Digital Consulting’… We currently live in a ‘digital world’ where we increasingly hear and use such terms as next in abundance only to air and sunlight! While technology-centric concepts and platforms have always been of interest to the marketing community, they have also more often than not, triggered a tendency to use these terms as illogical (and often meaningless) jargon, resulting in confusion about their realistic and commercial potential. Sounds familiar? How do you react to an ad which claims “Master AI, Be a Data Scientist and Boost Sales with Analytics in a Day with our advanced Machine Learning course!’?
Besides the question of ethics and good business practices, such claims more often stem from a lack of understanding of the concept, or of service/product incorporating the touted technology platform. Under relentless pressure of targets and deadlines, marketers can at times be excused for stretching the utility of upcoming technology-centric platforms, as per their own convenience and even fancy! I recently spoke with a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of a prominent technology major who stressed the need for leaders in marketing, sales and campaign teams to communicate and review specific message(s) being relayed to customers, to eliminate or at least minimize ambiguity in the message being conveyed.
As fanciful and amusing as they sound, misleading, misinterpreted and often illogical claims about the potential of evolving technologies also underline a more serious need which is often overlooked today – The need to nurture future marketers and business leaders with a more responsible, informed and realistic perception of industry and market.
I recently had an opportunity to validate my observation with a distinguished group of CMOs, data scientists, business leaders and eminent edupreneurs at an Industry Academia meet. A common key concern expressed by industry and market leaders was a glaring and expanding gap in terms of conceptual understanding of marketing graduates being churned out of an increasing number of technical and management institutes.
While the elite of the pack continue to be an exception, facilitating responsible, realistic and a practical approach to learning through Industry-Academia partnerships, a majority of mid- and lower-rung institutions continue to either delay or fail to recognize the need for such partnerships, citing factors such as cost and availability of experienced business/market leaders as either regular or visiting faculty. The all-pervasive social media often peddling misleading or unrealistic claims only adds to the confusion of would-be-marketers, who often mistake the hype and promotion to be the only tools available to promote a product or service.
While hype and jargon are not a recent phenomenon and have always existed in a marketer’s world, they assume a new dimension in the digital era. Marketers would do well to understand the quintessential need to be relevant and focus on adding value to their customers as opposed to relying on unbridled hype as a strategy for promotion.