Porter Gale is an internationally known author, advisor, public speaker and former vice president of marketing. Currently she serves as GM, Marketing Services at Globality, the first ever platform for global trade in premium B2B services. She recently chatted with Communications Week about the promise of machine learning technology to help drive unprecedented benefits to marketing initiatives in an increasingly global, digital world.
Most communications professionals would agree that the agency search process most companies rely on today is outdated, costing too much time and money. Do you think AI has a role in improving it?
Absolutely, I am a total believer in the notion that AI has a role in improving business across pretty much every sector in the economy.
I was an early advisor to a company that used AI to innovate and saw firsthand how AI could transform the programmatic-buying space. So I’m excited to witness, and participate in, the ways that technology will revolutionize our industry again.
That being said, I hope everyone spends the time to dig a little deeper on the promise of future technologies. There’s so much talk about AI -- The New York Times recently said that 2016 is “the year that AI came into its own for mainstream businesses” – so I’m surprised at how little is being done to explain actual practical applications to business.
The agency search process is a perfect example of how AI can modernize, and improve, very important yet outdated methods in the world of marketing. The current system is time-consuming and expensive for both clients and agencies; it’s one of the only parts of the whole marketing ecosystem that hasn’t changed for decades.
Applying AI to cut through the noise and help clients better pinpoint agencies based on what’s truly important -- top-notch skills, deep category experience and complementary cultures -- will be a game changer.
Given what we know about how sophisticated AI technology is getting, is it possible for marketing functions to one day be driven entirely by smart algorithms?
AI will make processes more effective and efficient, but it isn’t the end-all be-all answer, and we shouldn’t over-rely on it. It can enhance the work that smart people do but will never replace it. My hope is that the conversation shifts to the ways that tech and humans blend expertise — I predict that's where we'll see magical results.
Do you think there’s still a place for the traditional RFP?
Nope! Not for any company or brand that wants to approach communications from a modern perspective. Which is just about everyone.
The bottom line is that this is a space that’s long overdue for a shakeup. The current process tends to favor only the biggest agencies or marketing vendors and largely ignores the rise in specialist agencies we’ve seen in the last few years. It’s also not conducive to marketers’ new way of working, which revolves around more project work versus AOR relationships.
Having been on the other side of the table, I can attest to what you really want in a partner –excellence— and am certain it rarely comes from the largest, best-known players. Nor does it come from a lengthy, expensive process.
The job of a CMO is so complex, and discovering agency partners is just a sliver of their remit. The notion of being able to uncover new potential companies to work with, rather than the same old roster of shops, is a huge competitive advantage.
Globality was created to help make globalization work -- by enabling more small and midsize businesses participate in the global economy. Currently in beta, the Silicon Valley based company will launch in late 2016.