Balancing the Human & Machine Elements of Automation

So far in our series on the automation of marketing processes, we’ve covered the key parameters digital marketers must consider before choosing and implementing any specific automation technology. We’ve also discussed the importance of breaking down tasks and processes in your campaign management work flow, and creating a decision framework to guide you through the process.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the effect automating marketing processes will have on the humans in your organization, and what this will mean for your operations as a whole.

In order to successfully lead your teams through the journey, you’ll need to anticipate the distinct business trends automation will create and prepare for them accordingly.

The Impact of Creating New Growth Engines

When a marketing services organization sets the lofty goal of creating new growth engines by bringing automation into the fabric of their organization, it impacts three key areas of the business—the operational processes, the business operating model, and the customer experience. 

Because robotic process automation (RPA) involves using machines to replace human tasks, an organization’s operational processes will obviously be impacted.

But as the company shifts from a purely human-driven organization to one that utilizes both human and machine methods, automation will also affect the company’s overall business operating model. And when an organization has a shift in both its operational processes and business operating model, the customer experience will invariably be affected.
So whether you’re a brand looking to better engage with your end audience, an agency looking to improve service with its customers, or a company hoping to leverage automation and programmatic for media buying and selling, these three key areas of your business (operational processes, business operating model, and  customer experience) will be impacted significantly by the introduction of automated marketing practices. 

The process involves assembling a trio of internal teams to guide your business through the evolution, as well as considering what your employees will need in terms of training and reskilling.

Utilizing a Team Structure

There are three internal teams that need to be set up to help your organization launch a successful automation journey—a Center of Excellence (COE), Task Force, and Change Agents.


A center of excellence is a team of C-suite executives and other top organization leaders across business, finance, IT, and other key departments. Their primary focus is on how automation affects the organization from a high-level, strategic standpoint—i.e. what it means for the company’s operational processes, business operating model, and customer experience.

Task Force

A task force consists of individuals who are down in the trenches of the organization. Primarily tech-focused, they’re familiar with the company’s operational processes and know how to execute essential manual tasks. This operational knowledge, combined with their inherent tech skills, gives the team the aptitude and expertise to identify which processes should and should not be automated. In other words, the task force’s primary purpose is to identify operational tasks for automation by analyzing the company’s current processes against market needs.

Change Agents

Change agents are the evangelists of the automation journey. They have a softer skill set and are not recruited for their tech skills or familiarity with manual processes. Rather, their job is to promote change and encourage the automation movement throughout the organization. They are enthusiastic, open-minded individuals who encourage others to embrace automation by taking the lead in demonstration. They seed positive conversations about the automation of marketing processes to overcome internal resistance and ensure implementation is successful across the organization.

Upskilling & Reskilling

Finally, as your marketing organization goes through this journey, it’s necessary to take an inventory of hard and soft skills. From this perspective, what will the automation of marketing processes mean for your individual employees?

Because there’s no getting around the inevitable fact that once the automation of a process is complete, some jobs will disappear. So you’ll need to create new career paths for these displaced employees via upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling. 
The good news is that the bandwidth will be there, as these workers will no longer be bogged down by the manual processes they were responsible for prior to automation. As long as you create the necessary training, they’ll be able to take on more complex, high-end tasks and advance their career paths to more fulfilling levels.

In Short

Implementing automation into your business is a multifaceted undertaking that can produce a number of growing pains. Although the impact on the humans within your organization is one of the hurdles you will have to over come, there are simple tactics that you can utilize to mitigate the impacts of change. 

Mitigate the impacts of change on the humans in your organization by:

  • Utilizing Team Structures

  • Upskilling & Reskilling

  • Career Pathing

Taking into account the role that individuals in your organization will take as automation is rolled out, it is important to ensure their involvement in the processes, consider their feedback and always ensure you are upskilling and reskilling them to create a streamlined career path. Doing so will provide reassurance to your teams while validating the need for automation implementation to ensure not only the growth of your company but the success of the individuals who work within it.

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