AI and management consulting: Hand in hand or eyeball to eyeball?

The current technological revolution is well underway and shows no signs of slowing down. Steering the ship: information technology, AI and machine learning are all at full speed ahead, travelling to every nook of every continent. The global machine learning market is projected to grow from $7.3B in 2020 to $30.6B in 2024, but at what cost?

Global Machine Learning Market, by Component, 2017–2024 (USD Million)

As an industry focused on data collection, analysis and interpretation, management consulting has long-since possessed cutting-edge tech and complex software systems to maintain its specialism. So, what happens when tools and software, such as Google Analytics, Statista, Tableau and Domo, become globally accessible? Organisations can now promptly and effortlessly generate reports and insights into various business areas- a task once placed in the hands of consultants.

Are companies becoming less dependent on consultants?

Rapid digitization has shifted many decision-making practices from humans to machines. With countless software and tools out in the open for a company to explore, the need for consultants is questioned. Many are now investing in software-enabled systems that obediently track, log and store data. Companies are increasingly choosing to develop in-house AI departments, causing a reduction in the dependence on consultants.

There has been an awakening within companies, opening their eyes to see the significance of data and choosing to collect more of it on their own. Public software can analyse massive amounts of complex data, gifting businesses with deep insights at a fraction of the cost and time that a consultant would.

Will AI take over the role of a management consultant?

The industry is facing a whole new pool of competitors, from Google, Microsoft and data science pros. How can management consultants compete against cheap, often even free, rivals? One prediction is that a huge shift will take place in terms of the services being delivered. The role of a management consultant will no longer be to collect and analyse information but to make sense of the information that client’s extract for themselves.

Consulting firms may have to prepare for a significant decline in client’s willingness to pay for services. Consultants could have to shift their efforts to intangible services such as mentoring, coaching and negotiating to survive industrial changes. 

Despite fierce competition from fresh rivals, management consulting still retains its unique capabilities. For example, external influences are endlessly altering due to the very nature of reality and society, which cannot yet be covered by an AI system. Human’s don’t have to be coded to know that there’s a global pandemic influencing every aspect of business, they’re living it.

Even obtaining a state-of-the-art AI-powered solution, equipped with endless data, doesn’t mean that the business will be able to realise the best solution. A huge and unique part of management consulting is formulating and implementing the correct solution in an organisation, relative to the context and external pressures, which AI is yet to mimic. 

An opportunity for expertise

The industries top players have already displayed innovative reactions to the shift and certainly aren’t afraid of change, embracing it as an opportunity for expertise. The development of BCG Gamma has shown that the surge in AI availability to the public is expanding the need for specialised and specific services. BCG has long been well-known as an employer of the best-of-the-best professionals, with unmatched human capital being at the forefront of its USP. The company is continuing to show the value of its employees, while simultaneously acquiring innovative tech companies to maintain its unrivalled resources.

Management consulting firms should choose to continually invest in and advance its business‐domain capabilities- such as coaching, mentoring and negotiating. With this, companies can continue to customise solutions and technology to meet the requirements of clients and provide superior value.

The opportunity of management consultants lies within these unique capabilities that cannot be matched by AI. As AI availability continues to flourish, survival lies within being able to prove to clients why outsourcing these services is more favourable overall. For BCG, unmatched human capital triumphs. How will you prove it?

Universal IDs: Sharing is caring in AdTech

Identity fuels the AdTech ecosystem, allowing user individualisation to remain at the heart of digital advertising. The ability to have an ID means we can cross-connect devices, while linking online and offline user profiles and behaviours (onboarding) through Ad-Tracking. Unless you happen to be a digital advertising giant like Facebook or Google, access to this identity is given through third-party cookies and mobile advertising IDs. 

Cookies- fragments of code that track and store online customer journeys- allow advertisers to target users with personalised ads based on previously collected data. So, what happens to the not-so-giant industry players when privacy clamps down and restrictions tighten their grip? Google’s decision to remove third-party cookies from Chrome was the ultimate threat. How can small advertisers remain intact as we watch the cookie crumble?

The cookie-monster’s tracks have paved a path towards partnership. The current situation calls for collaboration to keep the ecosystem healthy for the far side of the pandemic.

The demise of third-party cookies

In a strive to generate relevant online consumer experiences, advertisers increasingly depended on data collection through cookies, identifying valuable audiences to target. Advancements in programmatic advertising and technology triggered the adoption and application of identity solutions. Progressively, privacy concerns deepened, with consumers rightfully demanding control and consent. Online users were no longer prepared to have their browsing histories and journeys watched like a hawk. So, the cookie-pocolypse commenced.

Of course, tailored digital advertising will continue. The removal of third-party cookies, combined with the tightening of GDPR privacy regulations, is set to bring about better transparency and control in the industry as a whole. Hopefully, the future of the digital advertising space will place privacy and trust at the top of the hierarchy. 

Shared identity solutions

So, what are agencies, marketing teams, publishers, ad tech, and ad platforms doing to replace cookie-based marketing? 

Universal ID’s have been signalled as the top solution to manage identity and online targeting as third-party cookies decline. Essentially, Universal IDs are identifiers used by parties for both identification and targeting. The solutions can make it easier to identify the same user across various platforms. For marketers and brands operating in the programmatic advertising space, there are thousands of providers with their own cookie and device-based IDs. A Universal ID solution allows these to be matched with other providers to identify the same user in order for the entire digital marketing ecosystem to function successfully.

Essentially, these new universal IDs are ‘shared identity solutions’ without the need for a third-party software to sync information and data like it has done in the past. The ultimate purpose is for the same ID to be shared between publishers and advertisers, providing a common advertising technology language that can be understood by all those involved.

The importance of collaborating with the right partners is critical for the future of advertising technology. The chance for synergy allows for a collective industry shift, focusing on transparency, honesty and privacy-compliant practices. Now, more than ever, partnerships form a path to mutual success.  

Impacts on the loyalty loop

The current spike in online traffic offers a golden opportunity for calls to action- such as getting customers to sign-up to newsletters or follow social media channels. This can increase lifetime value for publishers through taking care of audiences and ensuring that they remain loyal.

More than ever, publishers swing their focus to gaining loyal audiences. Publishers have a safe space to store their audience’s data and information. The new environment will demand high levels of data control, with programmatic safe havens becoming a necessity. Modern consumers value personalised brand experiences, and with access to data and information, publishers and advertisers can provide this. What the modern consumer also wants is transparency. Many are happy to consent to providing and sharing their data, but in return companies need to be open and honest as to how this information will be stored and used. 

Advice moving forward

Currently, publishers and advertisers alike are struggling with huge shifts in the industry, with closures and high furlough causing a struggle for many. Remember, crisis is a catalyst for change, and this occasion should be used to take care of audiences through using data in a non-abrasive, mutually beneficial way. The lifetime value of customers is becoming increasingly important, with the opportunity for publishers and advertisers to have a resurgence and form allegiance. Now is the time to shine. 

The recipe to successful social media content

Managing social media (SM) can be daunting and time-consuming, especially if you’re a small company. Too many companies are quick to brush social media marketing off as a chore, but it doesn’t have to always be that way. With the right planning, organisation and content, your SM activity can be not only successful, but enjoyable too. With an active presence, you can become closer to your clients, increase engagement and hopefully get a few giggles from your audience in the meantime. 

Step 1) Plan, plan, plan!

When crafting your posts, always plan from a 2-4-week perspective. Doing this helps you organise who, what, where, why and how your messages will be delivered. With all your previous and future content in front of your eyes, you’ll be able to clearly identify if you have a well-balanced approach, or if you’re being a little too pushy with daily updates on your new kitten (not that we don’t love to see it). Organising your content on a calendar can help you plan effectively and can be as easy as setting up a simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. 

Struggling to find a balance of what to post? Colour coding content categories (that’s a mouthful but stick with me) can help you visualise and ensure a variety. Think of your content like a stir-fry: keep mixing it up.

If you’re a content-creating newbie or want to add a little jazz to your social media without learning tricky software, I suggest using Canva.

Step 2) Find a schedule that suits your audience

Everybody knows that posting at 4am isn’t the cleverest idea if your focus is on engagement and interaction. Most social media platforms allow you to get a clear picture of the times your viewers have engaged the most with your posts. Not sure how? This article goes into detail. 

When you find the ideal schedule, stick to it. Maintaining a consistent posting pattern across your channels can make your life 10x easier.

Remember: not everything can be planned perfectly in advance. You’re always going to have a few spontaneous posts here and there, maybe you’ve suddenly thought of a funny pun or your co-worker bought a new planner he’s dying to show off. And so, he should! Sometimes these can even end up being the most engaging. One of the secrets to successful social media for business is making sure you enjoy what you post so that your viewers do too. 

Step 3) Get your team involved in creating content

Anyone spending hours every day coming up with SM content is bound to hit a brick wall from time to time. Don’t wait until you’re struggling, get a team member to give you a fresh pair of eyes and a helping hand. This can be a fun way of collaborating with your colleagues to develop some exciting new content that you can all be proud of. Or, even better, ask your audience what kind of posts they’d like to see using a Twitter Poll. Maybe they’d find a how-to guide handy on using a particular product or service that you offer. 

If you’re a small business owner and need help or advice managing your social media content, feel free to contact me to discuss how my services could benefit you.

Happy posting everybody!

Studying abroad during COVID-19

My study abroad journey from an outside perspective could be seen as nothing short of chaotic. First, the devastating bush fires that swept across Australia. Now, a global pandemic, where no-one is safe. Many students who embarked on similar journeys across the globe respectfully decided, or were outright required, to cut their year abroad short. 

Despite everything that’s happened in this topsy-turvy, unimaginable year, there was always certainty in one simple thing- I was staying put! That is of course, unless I was dragged onto a plane by authority. But only then. All of the turmoil has only made me dig my heels into the ground harder, more focused on my studies, work and future. I realise this makes me sound a tiny bit off my rocker, so it’s probably best I tell the year from my perspective- despite how condemned it appears on the outside. 

The story so far

Arriving in Melbourne in the midst of July wasn’t exactly what I was expecting- or dressed for! I mean that in the coldest way possible. Whoever planted the seeds of lies in my brain that everywhere in Australia has an all year-round summer will be getting a piece of my mind. Not that it mattered, I had just been freed from a 26-hour flight and landed in a country I was only ever able to dream of being in. Now it was real.

Fast forward 10 months and I have travelled across the country, from Cairns, Sydney, Adelaide, Tasmania and Uluru. I have sincerely fallen in love with this beautiful country, it’s wildlife and culture, despite its one blemish (flies at Uluru, I’m talking to you). 

Pirates Bay, TAS

I achieved a HD in my first semester at Monash Uni, while being able to meet a huge mix of amazing people from all across the globe, building strong bonds that I will no doubt always hold on to.

I’ve been lucky enough to land myself an internship working at Businessary which I have loved every minute of from the get-go. Each week is always different and enjoyable, collecting new skills to my toolbox as I go along. Working in this stimulating environment has been a huge pleasure so far, especially alongside a team of supportive and accomplished pros. 

The eye-openers

In the past 10 months, I’ve learned more about myself, the world and others than I have in my whole life. One of the biggest take-aways is learning to accept that I can’t control every aspect of life, sometimes sitting back and letting the storm blow over is the best I can do. But for every 1 thing I can’t control, there’s so much more that I can. I can’t control the fact that all of my learning has been moved online, although I can control seeing this as either an annoyance or a gift. I choose to see it as a gift. Now I have the chance to rewind, pause, eat a sandwich, and resume lectures without worrying about turning heads in the theatre frowning at my strong-smelling choice of fillings… it’s the little things that count. 

I’ve also learned a whole lot about my own dedication and perseverance. Understandably, it’s hard making the decision at 19 to move away from everything you know to the opposite side of the world. But, taking a massive leap outside my comfort zone has made me feel prepared for pretty much anything that swings my way. 

Seeing the world through another lens and realising that my homeland isn’t the only reality has been the biggest education of all. I will now be forever confident that even though I don’t totally know where I’m going in life, it’s never stopped me before. 

How to prepare for a job that doesn’t exist

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

If I had a dollar for every time I was asked this as a child, I wouldn’t need to plan my future at all.

I’m certain my response as a 5 year old would have been nothing remotely similar to- “I’m still torn between an SEO Analyst or UX Designer”.

Just a few of the many marketing jobs that did not exist 10 years ago.

In a short space of time, an explosion of digital marketing jobs has been created in response to the technological revolution.

Did you know that around 65% of the jobs that today’s learners will be doing in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet? How do we prepare for a future role that might not currently exist?

  1. Master Flexibility

The digital marketers of tomorrow will require an agile mindset and an ability to adapt to switching consumer dynamics. Self-learning is increasingly important in this rapidly evolving ecosystem.

Self-learning techniques to increase flexibility.

2. Gain Experience

I recently read a book that highlights that the more job roles a person has had, the greater experience and perspectives they bring. In a digital marketing future, it will be the breadth and depth of skills, and how transferable those skills are, that’s important.

3. Fill the relevant gaps

We’ve all got knowledge gaps. This isn’t always a bad thing. I’ll probably never need to fill my knowledge gap when it comes to physics. But if you’re an aspiring digital marketer who’s not quite sure how to turn a computer on, it’s probably best to work on that.

Click here to see ’21 jobs of the future in marketing’ proposed by Cognizant.

Can you see yourself filling any of these roles?

Digital Guide: SEO for Voice Search

With half of all online searches being done without lifting a finger, the landscape for digital marketers is changing. Clearly, searching has become more convenient than ever. For digital marketers, Siri, Alexa, and Google Home are shaping how we approach SEO.

If you’re trying to optimise for voice search using the same strategies as regular SEO, then you’ll want to stick around.

According to SEO Tribunal

3 SEO Strategies for Voice Search

  1. Be Concise

When someone asks a home assistant questions, they’re looking for a brief answer, and brief answers have higher chances of ranking for a voice search.

“Hey Alexa, what is SEO?”

Featured Google snippet when searching “what is SEO?”

For marketers, including a concise answer at the beginning of your content makes it easier for home assistants to find, read and rank.

2. Focus on local

It’s no secret that consumers use “near me” searches, but voice search users are increasingly searching for local results. Within the past year, 58% of consumers have found local businesses using voice search.

If you have a local store, you should optimise your content for local voice searches, use Google My Business and make sure you make answers easy to access online.

Source: Youtube

3. Natural language and long-tail key words

Consumers using voice search are using conversational language, and these queries are longer than regular text-based searches.

A few language features used in voice search.

So, for voice search optimisation, you too should focus on natural and conversational tone in your content. Try and put yourself in the consumer’s shoes, if you were looking for a certain answer, how would you phrase the question? This can help elevate your content in rankings.

Will voice search queries overtake text based? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

AI: at the heart of the modern customer’s journey

Could the answer to understanding the complexity of a consumer’s mind be Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Look, I get it. Humans are complex. But is a machine without a mind of its own really the best way to gain insights on the mind of others?

Well… it really could be. And it’s already happening. AI can provide personalisation across the customer journey and can use predictive modelling to achieve better outcomes at touch-points.

The Journey

The customer journey consists of three stages: pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase. So, how could AI fit with each stage?

How AI can integrate into the different stages of a customer journey

During pre-purchase, AI targeting and personalisation through email and ads can be hugely influential. 80% of customers are more likely to purchase a product if the marketing is personalised. Customer profiling enhances personalisation and also create product recommendations. SEO and voice search optimisation can also be used to impact the SERP positioning of the company.

The purchase stage is also useful for profiling, demand forecasting and profit optimisation. Lead generation can be calculated and such data is key in improving a marketers decision making, and for increasing CRO (conversion rate optimisation).

Post-purchase touchpoint like reviews have an endless capability to produce huge amounts of data. Chat bots at this stage can enhance customer service and collect useful data. Sentiment analysis can be used to give data driven insights too to really understand the consumer.

Source: Youtube
What is a chat bot and how are they used?

Clearly, AI has a well-deserved place in the customer journey. But as both a marketer and a consumer, I’m torn between emotions of excitement and apprehension about how much this technology can do. How about you?

When refusal to innovate is fatal

Tales of misfortunate companies that have met their demise through the rise of predatory rivals are now a dime a dozen. As technology advances, a sheer refusal to innovate has seen much-loved companies and industries struggle to stay afloat. Where did it go wrong?

  1. Netflix didn’t sink Blockbuster. Unfavourable late fees did. This was the scourge of Blockbuster: return a movie, go to rent another, and find out that you owe $20 in late fees. This was how it made most of its revenue. Blockbuster’s business model required a conflict of interest with customers- so customers switched to Netflix as soon as it became available, without remorse.
Source: Thought Works
  1. Uber didn’t kill your local taxi firm– unreliability did. Riders are now able to hail a ride online instantly, with live tracking and accurate time frames. Convenience and time-saving aspects have streamlined ride services with the desires of customers at heart.
Uber App GIF by Product Hunt
Source: Giphy
  1. Airbnb isn’t taking over the hospitality industry– new customer experiences and pricing options are. Customers are demanding authentic lodging experiences- in locals real homes- at affordable prices.

“Airbnb Experiences immerse travellers in local communities, offering one-of-a-kind, handcrafted activities, led by local experts.”

By Airbnb
Source: Youtube

If these examples teach marketers anything, it’s that not being customer-centric or lacking innovation of experience can be fatal. Marketers need to invest and evolve alongside technology as demand-based power rises. In short: optimise your customer experience, before competitors get there first.

Can you think of any other examples where refusal to innovate has been fatal?

Step aside influencers- UGC is back and booming

The power of social media influencers has capsized the world of digital marketing, with perfectly edited posts of avocado on toast that are almost enough to make it look tasty. But, with brands striving for consumers trust, there is great irony in relying on the same platform that brought Fyre Festival to do so.

Source: PHD Media

As consumers demand authenticity, companies are running into the arms of their familiar companion UGC (user generated content).

UCG is content created by unpaid contributors- from images, videos, hashtags, challenges and so on. UCG is 9.8x more likely to influence a purchase decision than influencer marketing.

Stop me if you think you‘ve heard this one before.

The year is 2014. The sun is shining. Your timeline is filled with videos of people throwing buckets of ice over themselves. #alsicebucketchallenge has taken over. 8 weeks and AUD$115M in donations later, the power of UGC had never been so apparent.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Source: Youtube

UGC is nothing new. So why are we seeing a boom now?

Consumers are growing frustrated with the inability to find honest-to-goodness information online. Glorified bribes in the form of influencer posts are so mass-produced that consumers are shutting off from them.

What does this mean for marketers?

In the age of inauthentic marketing, UGC emerges as the light at the end of the tunnel. Providing trustworthy information to help purchase decisions is more aligned with the desires of consumers today and often cheaper than paying rent to an influencer.

Do you see a future where influencer marketing has no influence?