B2B Marketers must become “marketing technologists” in preparation for machine learning

Earlier this month I attended MarketingProf’s annual conference in Boston for the 2nd time.  While there I sat through 5 keynote presentations and 12 deep-dive breakout sessions.  I met with 29 vendors and networked with hundreds of people.  It was YUGE!

I wanted to take a moment to step back and share my top takeaways.  First – B2B Marketers must become “marketing technologists” in preparation for machine learning.


Machine learning and artificial intelligence was all anyone could talk about at the conference.  Normally I would say it’s a new, shiny fad, but I already have machine learning running my house.  This is very real.  In my estimation, predictions about machine learning today are what marketing automation was 10 years ago.

Christopher S. Penn, an acclaimed author and VP of Marketing Technology at Shift Communications, did not mense words while speaking on the topic.  “There will be two types of workers in the near future.  Those who tell the machines what to do and those who do what the machines tell them. And those who direct the machines will have much better qualities of life.”

I spoke with many vendors in the market who are actively weaving machine learning into their product releases over the next 5 years – including HubSpot.  This is not a movie.  AI is here.

Penn states that all marketers must become “marketing technologists” to remain relevant.  We should educate ourselves on algorithmic thinking.

In order to remain relevant as new dynamics in marketing take center stage, I intend to learn to code.  10 years ago the common base requirement to work in marketing was HTML.  In 10 years we will all need to know how to code or be promoted far enough that it doesn’t matter.  I’ll hedge my bets.

What are you doing to stay ahead of the curve?

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