LinkedIn director of marketing solutions on why Australian marketers are lagging in new tech adoption

Prue Cox, director of marketing solutions at LinkedIn, says Australian marketers are playing it safe when it comes to leveraging new technologies.

A recently released report from LinkedIn found that Australian marketers are behind their APAC counterparts when it comes to leveraging new technologies. Australian marketers, it seems, see technologies as a threat, rather than an opportunity. Key findings include:

  • Only two thirds of marketers see AI (34%), machine learning (33%), augmented reality (33%) and virtual reality (34%) as opportunities. In contrast: 47% of all APAC marketers see these same technologies as opportunities.
  • 17% see AI as a threat, as well as chatbots and machine learning – which are seen as forces that could impact their function.
  • 28% believe there will be less marketing jobs as a result of new technologies.

 

Marketing spoke with Cox to understand Australia’s ‘business as usual’ approach.

 

Marketing: What surprised you in the research?

Prue CoxPrue Cox, director of marketing solutions, LinkedIn: The key takeout here is that Australian marketers are playing it safe when it comes to leveraging the new technologies and are significantly behind their APAC counterparts. The research shows that only 34% of Australian marketers were considering investments in AI, blockchain, and augmented reality, compared to 64% of their APAC counterparts.

The technology impact and customer expectations are very much a reality now for the marketing industry, but we’re not seeing that uptake from Australian marketers. They’re seeing these new technologies as a threat, rather than an opportunity. 28% said it would result in less marketing jobs, and what we’re really seeing is that there’s new jobs coming through within the marketing industry.

We’re seeing new jobs – new job functions leveraging the technology – things like chief marketing technologists and omnichannel retail strategists. New technology is really more around enhancing jobs and improving work, not really replacing it. It’s really about focusing on a capability to constantly learn. That’s key as it enables marketers to leverage the new technologies that are coming through. Reid Hoffman – who was the founder of LinkedIn – talked about the concept of permanent beta. That’s the reality now for Australian marketers – they need to be in this permanent beta, and they need to continually be up-skilling, but we’re seeing them start to play it safe, and not look at future-proofing their capabilities. They’re starting to fall behind from the rest of their APAC counterparts.

We are seeing some good examples of B2B marketers leveraging technology. There’s a great example out of NAB, which rolled out the virtual assistant for its business banking, which uses AI to answer more than 200 questions that were previously handled by a call centre staff. We’re seeing these levels of opportunity for new technology to drive efficiency within marketing and also start to drive personalised experiences for customers.

 

Only a third of Australian marketers are planning to use AI, blockchain and AR. AI and AR have been around for a few years now, so it’s appropriate to say we’re lagging. As for blockchain – the hype is a rather new phenomenon, but it’s showing similar results from Australian marketers as the others. Is it being adopted faster?

Australian marketers are adopting a ‘business as usual’ approach. Even as these new technologies start to come through, we’re not seeing them consider investments in them. Our insights show that Australian members of LinkedIn are engaging less with AI, Blockchain or AR content on LinkedIn compared to the rest of APAC.

They are playing it safe, and they’re not looking to up-skill. Globally we’re seeing blockchain being used not only for payments but for identity verification. But those applications – and they’re are quite exciting and powerful – are not starting to be leveraged by Australian marketers, certainly in a B2B space. We are seeing a little more uptake in B2C, but when it comes to B2B marketers, they really seem to be playing a safer.

We’ve seen some exciting applications of AI with generating content, and there’s predictions that over the next two years, over 20% of business content will actually be AI-authored as we start to see things like quarterly business reviews, stock insights, profit and loss summaries, all start to be generated using AI, which is pretty powerful in terms of greater efficiencies for marketers.

 

What’s your approach at LinkedIn to training and embracing new tech. How do you set aside investment and budget for these and how do you go about planing strategies for them?

I talked about that state of constant learning, and I think that that’s something we continue to look at. One of our key business units at LinkedIn is LinkedIn Learning, and the content available there is extensive in these new technologies, and continuing to be added to on a weekly and monthly basis. From the perspective of the marketing solutions team, we are constantly looking at where we can be utilising LinkedIn learning to up-skill our sales teams and to be making sure that we’re at the forefront of understanding how our clients are utilising these technologies and the opportunities that are there.

Now, with our ownership by Microsoft: Microsoft is very much at the forefront of AI and blockchain, and is continuing to make some significant investments in this area, and that’s something that we’ll continue to leverage as it looks at new applications for those as well.

 

For Australian marketers there is a disparity between their business priorities and their marketing skills. They’re continuing to prioritise these cognitive and account management skills over creative and technical skills, and they’re prioritising hiring around these skills as well. So, we’re seeing them look to agencies to help bridge some of the gap on creative and technical, where they should probably be looking to invest more from their own internal marketing departments in how they start to up-skill on these.

 

Do you see us closing this gap with the rest APAC or falling further behind as technology advances?

What we’re seeing from the research that we’ve done is that they will start to fall behind if it doesn’t become a priority. I think that we definitely need to see Australian marketers start to prioritise how they actually leverage this new technology we may potentially see them falling behind, certainly from our APAC counterparts.

 

Further reading

 

 

Image copyright: shaiith / 123RF Stock Photo

 

Ben Ice
BY Ben Ice ON 28 February 2018
Ben Ice is editor at MarketingMag