A new era is dawning in the worlds of marketing and manufacturing as people and machines are starting to collaborate ever more closely. There are interesting parallels between the evolution of robotics and that of marketing automation and personalisation.  This autocollaboration brings the promise of leaps in productivity both for the production line and the brand and retail experience.

Take Baxter for example, this friendly little robotic fella is part of a new wave of collaborative robots that is changing how humans and machines interact.

Historically industrial robots have been big, powerful and dangerously fast and as a result they operate behind safety cages which prevent humans straying into their path. However Baxter and his kind are different.  For a start, they are slower and less powerful than their larger robotic cousins.  Far from being a limitation, these traits enable them to work closely and in tandem with humans.

This is proving handy at certain stages of the manufacturing process such as the product finishing phase which has traditionally been done expensively by hand. Importantly these collaborative robots are much easier to programme.  Traditional industrial robots are difficult to re-task, usually requiring a specialist engineer and possibly weeks to re-configure making changes in function expensive.

Instead, these new collaborative robots can be easily reprogrammed by their human co-workers.  Some can be reprogrammed simply by an untrained worker moving their robotic arms into position and recording each stage of the manufacturing process required.

It is this flexibility and simplicity of use that is opening up new horizons for robots.  They are finding their way into different environments and beginning to start helping on a wider range of tasks. A similar trend is happening in the marketing and retailing worlds where we’re seeing the evolution of digital tools that are making automation and personalisation easy.

These new tools bring power that has traditionally been the domain of specialists into the reach of technically untrained marketing folk.

Like Baxter, these new tools are simple to programme. They make it simple to automate some of the heavy lifting that’s always been done by plain manpower or more complex software beyond the reach of your average non-techie.

As these smart tools are being combined with data we’re seeing leaps in marketing productivity, brand engagement and conversion rate. When used creatively they are opening up new areas of the marketing process to autocollaboration and as a result the line between marketing and sales is blurring.

At Blueleaf we’re working with clients to identify how we can use this sort of personalisation to increase their audience engagement and ultimately drive sales.

Increasingly these tools will shape how companies structure themselves and how they manage their relationship with customer and audience.

As it becomes simpler to automate “the personal touch”, it inevitably raises the question of how ‘machine proof’ our jobs are. Interestingly, although the first wave of industrial robots led to the loss of jobs, the subsequent increases in productivity led to economic gains which resulted in new jobs requiring different skills.

It seems that learning to play nicely with machines is probably a good career strategy in this brave new world.