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Artificial Intelligence: Who is responsible?

Auf dem Innovationstag von Serviceplan diskutierten der renommierte Münchner Philosoph und Kulturstaatsminister a. D. Julian Nida-Rümelin und Martina Koederitz, Vorsitzende der Geschäftsführung IBM Deutschland, gemeinsam mit Klaus Schwab, Geschäftsführer der Plan.Net Gruppe, über neue ethische Standards.

2016/2017: From the winds of change to the storm of transformation

2016 represented a new high in a profound change process that is pervading our sector. This process breaks up structures, consolidates markets and is set to change our ecosystem significantly in the coming years. Marketing automation is in full swing, with advertising needing to be more relevant and context-driven for the individual in future. The underlying processes are thus becoming more complex – a reason also why service providers with extensive problem-solving ability are attractive to advertisers and therefore why fully integrated agencies have a competitive advantage.

Programmatic advertising: Here to stay!

Programmatic advertising has already gained large-scale acceptance in the online display market and will embrace all media genre by 2020. The media (radio, TV, out of home and even print in part) is currently working on interfaces that will enable planning and booking as well as processing and pricing. In the case of Mediaplus and Plan.Net, programmatic purchasing and processing across all media is already taking place as an integrated part of our subsidiary PREX.

2016 already saw the beginnings of programmatic creativity and it is set to play a significantly greater role in future. Ensuring that data is used and structured correctly before a campaign launches will gain added weight in future when it comes to designing online advertising material or even moving image variants tailored to specific target groups. Automation will have reached all areas of marketing by 2020, and not just planning, booking and presentation, but also creation, dialogue, CRM and much more.

Market consolidation

Not all market players will be able to meet these requirements by a long way – and this applies both for publishers and for service providers. Google, Facebook and Amazon are likely to get even bigger slices of the advertising cake, while the remainder of the cake will only be enough for the large publishers and media houses. The service providers who will benefit primarily on the agency side will be those that can both master the technology and have access to properly trained personnel – and finding the right people for this job, training them and then holding on to them is in itself a monumental task.

We already have the technology we need. Now we have to change structures, procedures and also the nature of collaboration between advertisers and service providers so that we can manage the change process. After all, it is the people and not the technology who play the most important role in this process.

This article was also published at December 15th in the print edition of the Kontakter.

The customer in the centre! Seriously?

Personalisation is currently one of the mega trends in marketing. In less than two years, the market has developed to the point where there is no avoiding it. For business clients and solution providers as well. On the provider side, almost all industry giants, such as Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce, Microsoft, and IBM are building out their cloud marketing solutions. On the client side, they are increasingly looking for answers on how to use these new opportunities for profit. Finally, as a private user, most individuals have experienced how impressive personalisation and automation can be when scrolling through recommendations on Amazon, or when their own smartphone calculates, unasked, the time it will take to get from work to home. And new capabilities promise that this is just the beginning. It’s high time to use this potential for your own customers. Many of the mentioned cloud solutions now provide hitherto unimagined possibilities. Customers can now find more relevant information and be more quickly and efficiently served and supported, whether it is before or after they make a purchase.

Nevertheless, individual companies should be cautious. Experience shows that, over time, personalisation cannot remain a marketing trick. The decision to adopt these technical solutions is only the beginning. True personalisation means the desire or intention to distinguish one client from another. And you must be willing! This is not just a task for systems and machines, but rather it is a task for people, and, finally, the whole organisation. When companies take the route towards personalisation, they quickly realise where the opportunities lie, as well as the risks. Departmental structures, which for years guaranteed successful business management, now prevent many companies from truly understanding customers’ interests and using that knowledge effectively. It seems logical and paradoxical at the same time: to serve and support customers individually with relevant information, more people and departments in the company must work together without barriers.

This means creating horizontals that include departments such as sales, marketing, customer service etc. When a customer has just signed a mobile phone contract, it doesn’t make sense to them to continue seeing incompatible products from the same brand. Or if the customer is inconvenienced with answering further questions to supplement an online profile, but they’ve been a valued customer in retail stores for a long time. Vertical integration is required as well: areas such as procurement, IT, legal, etc., need to implement the necessary infrastructure, data and systems, as well ensure legal compliance. How should an IT department know which system is the best fit for a certain marketing strategy? The consulting market to prepare companies for the age of personalisation is booming right now. From a conceptual standpoint, but as well from the organisational perspective, removing barriers across departments makes companies more capable of acting.

But the challenge goes even deeper, who says that personalisation is a good fit for every organisation? Who says that it will be the decisive competitive advantage for a company within a sector? Companies should truly consider whether this is a mega trend they need to follow, and if so, how they can differentiate themselves from competitors. Is the desire to serve clients on a more personal level really in the DNA of the company, and therefore a competitive advantage, or is the competition ultimately superior? In the digital age, personalisation and automation mean an extremely fast pace and the ability to interact, which must be overcome in the long run. And this is a question not only for “old” competitors: this isn’t the first time a mega trend brought new players to the field who understand little of the traditional performance-related competitive advantages of an industry. However, recent factors, such as a consistent focus on personalisation as a key success indicator, have made attacks on established industries…