Wednesday 20 March 2019, Manchester

Mike Ryan (@ManchesterMike), founder of ethical AI firm Oath, took us on a journey over the next decade predicting a new normal and the likely collapse of the current duopoly of Facebook and Google that currently holds the industry to ransom.

Mike explained that social media mirrors society but we as consumers don’t always like what we can see. We’re waking up to the fact that they know a bit too much about us and have been careless with our data. Data is the new oil!

Google over optimisation is starting to degrade quality and the search favours advertisers. We need search engines to deliver different, diverse results. 

AI is at a nascent stage, looking at repetitive tasks that humans do over and over again and getting a robot to do it. Repetitive tasks are the least motivating for employees so maybe a win win? Particularly if it frees up time for people to do different things and work together with robots. It’s important to look at an ethical way of growth in the context of AI, keep people in employment, retrain them and grow the business.

Mike shared the case study of Rotterdam docks. It used to be a very wealthy city but increased automation has resulted in extensive job loss in the dockyards with massive unemployment, social and crime issues and even a return of rickets due to extreme poverty. He posed the question of if people don’t have jobs, who pays taxes?

We need to think long and hard abou how tech is used to do the right thing for society not the wrong.

Where can marketing go

We need to go down the data route and understand more about customers. Spreadsheets started in 1983 yet a number of forum members still use them. Is there a better way? Mike also talked about the increasing use of data partners, sharing data for mutual relationships while still adhering to relevant  legislative guidelines.

Human emotion and behaviour are still key and neuromarketing is going to grow over the next few years. It’s where science meets marketing, how you engage different parts of the brain and will result is new marketing strategies.

Mike predicts toxic times ahead with all platforms struggling. Early adopters are great but lots of people don’t want to change or be dragged into a shiny new world. Our role as marketers is to be at the forefront of change and understand the impact for our businesses.

There is likely to be a switch to grassroots systems like Open ID used by 48% of Swedes. This not for profit system allows consumers to own their own data.

Storytelling and trust are the new pillars but have disappeared in so much marketing. Authenticity is the new buzzword. Mike explained how it’s hard to do that through twitter/social  as you can’t convey emotions like you can do face to face

Companies need to be transparent, honest and admit mistakes. These traits are disappearing more and more in big tech. It's incredibly seductive to look at AI but important to look at how to use it without human casualty.

Mike cautions against our obsession with surveys given by their anonymity, they’re disingenuous. Marketers need to walk in their audiences shoes and gain authentic knowledge about their customers.

Creative agencies are at risk as companies look to insource skill sets. We all need to adapt or risk being part of the cull!

In conclusion online is under attack and change is afoot. We will need to think hard about how we hit bullseye in the future, think differently, be contrary and don’t fear the future and embrace humanness.

Thanks to Mike Ryan - or @ManchesterMike

Written by Katy Turner, Family Business United