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Art [the human touch] vs Science [technology]

This article - Brave new world is from the Chartered Institute of Marketing [CIM] and is a good example of many written about or around the subject. That subject being how technology can help marketers do their jobs. It raises perfectly valid points. Data can be gathered analysed and acted upon automatically - the 'science' of marketing - releasing humans to do the 'arty' stuff.

However - and if you've read other stuff on this website, you will know this is coming - I have a caveat. Computer folk often talk about 'rubbish-in-rubbish-out' [RIRO] meaning that a computer does what the human tells it to do, and if the instructions are rubbish, so too will be the results.

I think the article makes this point, but you have to read it carefully, I would have been more forceful in the making of that point.

For example, on page two it says; "Segmentation and customer retention strategies can be worked out by algorithms - and used in areas such as car insurance - to conclude whether someone qualifies for insurance benefits."

Yes, absolutely this is the case - but a human being must first decide on the parameters of those algorithms - the 'art' side of the science.

A further example of my argument comes from the good old-fashioned [but still relevant] marketing mix - price setting. When I worked in retail our selling prices were worked out by a bean-counter who stuck the cost price in one end of a formula and the selling price came out the other end. This was OK for many products - particularly if the buyers knew their trade. However - and every sales person will confirm this - there are some products where you look at the price and say either [a] we can't sell this at this price, or [b] we could get a lot more for this product. It is the experience, the know-how, the 'feel' for the market that the folk on the shop floor can bring to the price-decision table - the 'art' - that computer algorithms cannot.

And here is the moral to this story. If the marketers don't shout about it, the 'science' folk will think they can do it all. And that is a recipe for business failure - because although they might be whizzes with algorithms, they are rubbish at sales.

How to cite this article:
Charlesworth, A. (2006). Art [the human touch] vs Science [technology] . Retrieved [insert date] from

This page was first published around 2006 but may have been updated since then
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