Artificial intelligence and ethics in marketing and sales: enticing a limited but in-demand talent pool

Author Wendy Gray
February 19, 2024

At Carter Murray, our role is to connect business leaders with the right professionals – whether you’re a start-up, scale-up or established global brand.

Working with a vast network gives us unique insight into what’s happening in recruitment across today’s global marketing and sales markets.

We’ve gathered global data to explore trends in AI and ethics within marketing and sales – including momentum and challenges, impacts on your business and potential recruitment strategies.

AI and ethics – momentum and challenges

“Leaders making larger investments in AI and engaging in increasingly advanced practices are showing signs of faring better in the tight market for AI talent.”

The state of AI report, McKinsey

Automation, optimisation, personalisation and predictive analytics

Some of the largest reported revenue effects of AI are within marketing and sales functions. AI enables marketing teams to automate and optimise their tasks, increase efficiencies and improve measurable results. It can analyse large datasets to understand client and customer behaviours and preferences – creating a highly personalised experience.

Real-time data analysis helps businesses target the right audiences through the right channels, improve the customer experience through 24/7 chatbots and virtual assistants, and use historical data to predict future trends and behaviour – supporting future marketing and sales strategies.

Ethical concerns around AI

AI in marketing can raise ethical concerns when it comes to transparency, fairness and privacy. Like humans, AI is expected to follow social ethics. Consumers are increasingly fearful of the misuse of their data, especially if they find its use difficult to understand or feel they’re being manipulated through personalisation techniques. But marketing functions that perform highly with AI may have a head start on managing risks.

According to McKinsey’s report, businesses can mitigate risks through AI and data governance, data quality control automation, standardised processes and protocols, and ongoing testing and monitoring of their AI models’ validity for potential problems.

$110bn is the predicted size of the global spend by companies on AI.

The adoption of AI by businesses more than doubled between 2017 and 2022, according to McKinsey. The AI trend was accelerated by the pandemic due to an increase in remote working, giving marketing functions opportunities to combine the efforts of humans and systems to target clients and customers more effectively online and to increase sales.

Data and trustworthiness

Businesses are increasingly expected to be transparent about their marketing AI models and give control to clients and customers over their data.

Impact on your business

Increased demand for skills

The rise of AI and automation in marketing and sales has driven an increased demand for skills in both AI and ethics. Businesses require candidates who understand AI and how to use it effectively, but they also may need professionals that can protect the business and its customers from ethical implications. Marketing skills in demand include automation, data analysis and ethical decision-making.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)

McKinsey’s report shows that there is still improvement to be made on the diversity of AI professionals. Marketing functions looking to source talent and upskill professionals should focus on gender, racial and ethnic diversity – as this is proven to have a direct correlation with outstanding performance.

Automation vs the human touch

While AI and automation enables marketing and sales functions to focus on other activities, interaction with customers still requires a human and empathic touch for connection. Empathy remains the basis of strong relationships and trust, which can be difficult to achieve at scale and digitally. Machine learning will continue to improve its imitation, but businesses still need humans behind the wheel.

Desirable candidates

Businesses had to adapt during the pandemic and learned that AI and automation can help them continue activities and achieve their goals even while their employees were working remotely. As a result, marketing and sales candidates who have experience or can educate themselves on AI technologies and automation are now more desirable in the workforce.

According to a study by UiPath, 73% of executives and managers say that if they’re choosing between two candidates, they’ll pick the one with experience in automation and AI.

  • 46% say that these skills can increase employees’ pay
  • 67% say it gives employees more opportunity for career development within their business.
  • 83% believe automation and AI skills will be required in the future of work.

Competitive advantage

The marketing automation industry has become one of the most important trends in digital marketing, according to TrueList. Those marketers utilising automation not only reduce and remove repetitive tasks, but take them to the top of their niche against competitors.

  • 90% of marketers regularly use more than one form of marketing automation software.
  • 61% of marketers use marketing automation to generate more leads.
  • 80% of marketers consider marketing automation the number one contributor to their success.
  • Businesses using marketing automation are 20% more productive.

Potential strategies from a recruitment perspective

Marketing leaders face various recruitment challenges: a limited pool of candidates with experience in AI and ethics, a high demand for that pool, the complexity of the field and potential reputation damage if they can’t maintain an ethical approach to AI.

We can guide you on potential strategies from a recruitment perspective – including identifying the right talent, using skills-first hiring approaches for more diverse candidates, building equitable hiring processes and upskilling for talent retention.

You can also learn more about our global recruitment services where we can work with you to co-create a seamless, global solution to support your hiring and talent needs.

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