Modern Marketing Skills—Emerging Competencies in an AI World

By Kathy Baughman

Envision the modern-day centaur as half human and half machine. In visualizing this, you probably imagined the top half of the human body kluged to a mechanical base. The resulting being could outpace the limitations of human movement with the ability to reason and create. Instead, picture two powerful brains—one human and the other comprised of artificial intelligence—that together represent the new age of marketing. People who thrive in this new reality will collaborate with machines and rapidly co-develop new intellectual capital and highly effective processes and systems.

Kathy Baughman blog artwork

This vison was laid out across multiple sessions at the recent B2B MX conference. While artificial intelligence is already embedded in many marketing tools and platforms, its adoption is poised to rapidly accelerate. One study cited at the conference predicted that in two years, 54% of marketing jobs will be replaced by machines. The good news is that machines and humans will each handle tasks for which they are best suited and, in the process, develop a new level of person and machine collaboration.

Kathy Baughman blog art, Phoenix Desert Museum

The collective angst centers on what functions will survive and what new ones will evolve. Common wisdom indicates that AI will overtake functions to produce, perform, and predict at scale. Many tasks that eat up much of a marketer’s day will be automated. This includes things like providing personalized experiences, predicting next best action, generating demand, uncovering threats to brand reputation, drafting social shares, writing or creating basic copy and headlines or A/B testing. It may even suggest new campaigns or activities you didn’t think to explore.

Humans will focus on the strategy side of the equation, finding the intelligent start for its machine counterpart, engineering course corrections, and discovering new directions that previously remained buried in mounds of data. Different and evolving skill sets will be valued; the attributes, expertise and experience that comprised a foundation for success in the past will not necessarily work going forward.

Here’s the skill sets that will matter:


The role of strategist will cross multiple functions to create meaningful marketing outcomes. Marketers will need to understand how to engineer meaningful experiences, engage at multiple touchpoints, make omnichannel a near seamless reality and drive deeper loyalty by understanding the customer deeply and predict their individual needs. Marketing around pain points requires deep understanding of the buyers’ world. Strategy will be required to:

  • Produce revenue generating ideas with intelligent execution
  • Tap the right tech tools to make AI perform in a meaningful way
  • Know what to add and subtract from the marketing equation
  • Serve as a true partner to buyers and customers

 Strategist skill sets are necessary to succeed across all marketing functions. 

Data Scientist

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