New Report: Advances in web personalization to eliminate need for human editors by 2020

by on April 1, 2012

A groundbreaking study from Boston-based think tank Buytaert & Peng predicts marketing technology is on pace to replace and eventually eliminate the need for human editors who work on the web.

The report suggests we’re on the cusp of an ‘Era of Automation’ fueled by dramatic advances in analytics, marketing technology and an overall understanding of how to map content to consumer preferences.

“Big data has been a hot topic for the last year, but what’s happening is that technology is finally starting to catch-up with the dream,” said John Aubrey, Chief Scientist at Buytaert & Peng. “We’ll soon have technology at our fingertips to connect this massive set of data with existing web content to produce completely personalized experiences for every customer across every touch point and every possible device. It’s the holy grail of marketing and it’s right around the corner.”

The research predicts the need for content strategists, editors and web writers will be in steady decline until its eventual demise in 2020. This would mean that a generation of jobs filled by ex-newspaper and ex-magazine writers and editors who hooked on to the web content revolution will again be needing to re-invent themselves for a new era.

“Today, every website needs an army of people to post, curate, organize and decide what goes on every single page,” said Aubrey. “Imagine a world where technology does that for you. We will experience one of the greatest efficiency gains of the last 100 years.”

The shift to the Era of Automation connects to the broader “automation” trend in business today.

“We’ve streamlined and automated our supply chains, our manufacturing and production, our shipping and our delivery systems, so it makes sense for content management and marketing automation vendors to cut the humans out of the digital equation,” said Aubrey. “Frankly, I’m surprised it took this long to happen.”

This comes as a significant shock to the content marketing and content strategy fields which have been experiencing rapid growth as the role of content has become more and more critical. As thousands of new professionals have entered the field, this report suggests these careers may be short lived.

“There’s a massive amount of people who will need to be retrained for new roles,” Aubrey continued. “The good news is these technology systems will need maintenance and upkeep. You can envision a scenario where many of the content folks become system administrators and support engineers to keep our technology running.”

The report also forecasts that the corporate HVAC field will see explosive growth, offering new opportunities for workers. Says Aubrey, “We’re going to need people, lots and lots of people, to keep all the cooling equipment running in all the data centers. That stuff gets hot fast.”

Some industry insiders say that CMS and marketing automation software vendors have had this technology ready for several years, but chose instead to saturate their markets with software and services to maximize revenue before unveiling this holy grail solution.

“Just a rumor. Never happened that way,” says one unnamed vendor, adding hastily, “But yes, customers will need to upgrade and totally replatform to get the benefits of these new solutions. It’s a new beginning. We’re resetting our clocks back to Version 1.0.”

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Daniel Graystone April 1, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Absolutely spot-on analysis. We expect to revolutionize this market in Q3 of 2012 with our “Content You Like Online Now” (CYLON) platform, which uses the latest and greatest in sentient machine technology to make recommendations your customers will really engage with.

It will change how sites are built throughout the 12 colonies.

2 Marcia Riefer Johnston April 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm

I burst out laughing at “We’re going to need people, lots and lots of people, to keep all the cooling equipment running in all the data centers.” Hilarious.

3 Marcia Riefer Johnston April 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Gotta love “Buytaert & Peng” too.

4 Wynter April 2, 2012 at 7:33 pm

And who, pray, will write that content? I can’t say the post sheds light on how exactly it’s going to work. Am waiting to see an example.

5 Susan M. April 3, 2012 at 10:11 am

@Wynter: Not only that, but the post also notes that automation will connect users with “existing web content.” So while the operational model might become more efficient, we’re still talking about content that needs to be created, maintained, pruned and refreshed so that it continues to be relevant to the human beings that will consume it. Which is why content strategy (not merely editing, as the post indicates, but having and understanding how to execute a plan for the material we put online) will continue to be a relevant discipline.

6 Marcia Riefer Johnston April 3, 2012 at 8:06 pm

This was my favorite April Fools Day post. Kudos to the creative author(s?).

7 John Eckman April 13, 2012 at 9:16 am

Thanks Marcia, but the post was actually written by a machine. ;)

8 Jody McIntyre April 19, 2012 at 6:26 am

Great post, thanks! There are many who would wish it so…

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