We welcome a brand new writer, Theresa Michelle to the Rockstar CMO penthouse, inspired by Ted Rubin she continues the theme from The Ghost in the Machine Issue, suggesting that all this automation is actually bad for business.

It’s no secret that automation has the potential to remove human interaction from business deals. Automation through artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) technology, robotics, telematics, and other dominating technologies are bound to increase efficiency in a number of vital, global industries. But at what cost?

There’s no-one smelling the smoke

The BBC recently visited the 18-acre (784,080 sq ft) site that housed a nearly fully-automated Ocado warehouse. Approximately 1,100 waist-high cuboid robots run the warehouse and are all part of just one central machine, eliminating the need for human warehouse workers except for a few supervisors. Online home delivery company Ocado is actually aiming at developing its business so that it is only run by a few people, whether it is their warehouse, transport logistics or customer service.

On 5th February, the warehouse caught fire, causing nearby neighbourhoods to evacuate after an “acrid smell” lingered over the area. The global security award-winning sprinkler system proved useless as it took 200 fire fighters to stop the flames. Because the facility was nearly fully automated, no one was hurt – no one smelled the fire coming either.

It decreases personal customer interaction

Even as automation aims to tailor customer needs, it relies on methods that actually decrease personal interactions, which comes with certain costs. Verizon Connect discusses how newly programmed service-oriented software allows customers to specify their requirements at a click of a button before orders are carried out. And this is now widely available across a myriad of different consumer-facing industries.

It’s true that this method of using automation to streamline certain processes actually increases the capability of service and product providers to reach out to their customers. At the same time, this personalisation through service-level agreements actively decreases personal customer interaction, in a similar way to what’s happening in the music industry today.

It’s a de-humanizing barrier between creators and their audience

The world’s most popular source for digital music is Spotify, as evident by its 96 million premium subscribers since the last quarter of 2018. The reason this app is so popular is because of its ability to give its customers convenient and near-instant access to the world’s music. AI algorithms allow the company to provide personalised and highly relevant recommendations to their users about what to listen to next, in the form of radio playlists and the Discover Weekly option, both based on customer usage. This has allowed music lovers everywhere to discover new and talented musicians from across the globe.

At the same time, most of the musicians that have signed up with Spotify report earning next-to-nothing in royalties, despite the app’s widespread appeal. In spite of that, independent musicians continue to use the platform as a way to spread their message and increase their fan base.

The result is a very convenient but much less personal way of acquiring new music. As easy as it is to discover new musicians, it’s even easier to divorce ourselves from the issues these musicians face on a daily basis.

While this type of automation at first empowered musicians who were being taken advantage of by labels, it’s become another music industry middle-man entity, another de-humanising barrier between artist and listener.

There’s no substitute for great people

As Ted Rubin advises in this article, marketing tools have the potential to greatly de-humanise the experience for your customers. And if that’s the case, your business may be better off without it.

If you want to humanize your brand, there’s no substitute for rolling up your sleeves and, well, just being human.

Ted Rubin

Instead of distributing automated e-mails (or spam) reach out to leads that are likely to be interested in your product. While you can save on costs by automating responses to any inquiries on social media, customers will appreciate responses from actual employees who know what they’re talking about.

Time to decide what kind of marketing Rockstar you are

There’s no question that automation can help your company achieve rock star status. But what kind of rock star do you want to be? Are you the virtuoso whose hired entourage takes care of the fan interaction? Or are you the beloved veteran, the one who still takes time to actually connect and hangout with the fans before and after shows? Automation can make it easier for you to make your way to the top, but if it only establishes more barriers between you and your clientele, it might not be worth pursuing in the long run.

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