In October of this year the gauntlet was thrown down to the cohort of the MSc In Digital Marketing and Data Science as part of the program’s Artificial Intelligence in Marketing course – to help a Los Angeles-based NGO develop an AI-driven marketing strategy designed to raise awareness of their business. With vital input from an impressive roster of participating digital marketing experts, students gained insight into the digital marketing challenges faced by companies today and the role the science and application of AI will have in the future.
The ever-changing nature of the digital market needs skilled professionals capable of understanding the customer journey and accurately identifying what strategy a company should adopt. This, according to Professor Margherita Pagani, Academic Co-Director of the emlyon MSc In Digital Marketing and Data Science and Director of the AIM Research Center on Artificial Intelligence in value Creation, is where the School’s program and students tick all the boxes. “We want our students to walk into companies being digital savvy long before graduation. Helping them grasp the importance of digital tools within a business context but also understand the science behind those tools is key and AI is one of the most powerful tools for any digital marketing business at present. Not many programs can boast students and graduates with such a hybrid skill set. The AI in Marketing course helps hone these dual competencies”.
A changing digital landscape
The MSc was launched three years ago, morphing from a primarily Digital Marketing learning experience into one that truly marries data science with practical application, as evidenced by the highly corporate twist to the recent AI in Marketing course. This year taken by 118 students of 37 nationalities, it featured a day-long event that kicked off with a series of guest speaker sessions featuring representatives from Numberly, Horizon, Facebook, and IBM, amongst others. Each company had the chance to showcase their business operations and scout for potential recruitment talent among the emlyon students who, in turn, gained genuine insight into the challenges posed by AI. Anna-Regina Entus, a German student on the program, remarked: “the course gave us the opportunity to connect with representatives from big tech companies providing various perspectives from a range of industries. They provided a better understanding of how Artificial Intelligence is applied in the world today and highlighted the changing landscape of the digital world.”
Students on the case
Attentions for the rest of the day then turned to a case study for which students were split into multicultural groups, a set-up intended to test their interpersonal skills as well as theoretical knowledge and business know-how. Each group had to examine the most effective ways in which the NGO Rogue Artists Ensemble could best employ the full suite of Google tools to devise a more effective digital marketing strategy in order to raise awareness on a limited budget and within a time of crisis. No small task. Each group was called upon to pitch before an adjudicating panel, with the two most convincing campaigns to be adopted by the NGO. For Indian student Rupesh Ashok Kumar, this highlight gave him the impetus to want to hone his digital skills even further, beyond the course: “From day one we were assigned to work on a really ambitious undertaking comprising a live business project. The goal was to perform a deep digital marketing audit and provide recommendations to improve performance, brand image and optimize online presence. After completing the project, I was able to put my skills to the test immediately by going outside the course to get my Google Analytics advanced certification.”
Understanding the profession
As well as enabling corporate representatives to share knowledge and experiences with possible future hires, the AI in Marketing course also provided present-day insight into the potential career envisaged by some students. This was aided by the proactive role of the attending companies as “advanced tutors” keen to share the behind-the-scenes aspects of their profession. For Kenyan student Joy Njogu, this intuitive approach went above and beyond a standard corporate event or academic course: “The presentations allowed me to step into their world and understand the role of a marketer today and the challenges they face. For example, the presentation from Verizon highlighted that today Chief Marketing Officers are working hard to anticipate the future and understand who they are talking to, where they are, how they can be reached. Having this kind of insight is useful because I can add more value in the work environment when I know the problems we need to solve.” Now duly equipped with the marketing tools needed to navigate the digital environment, hopes are high for all 118 participating students, backed with the in-the-field expertise of the various corporate contributors.