What can humans do, that AI can’t?

It’s become very obvious that Artificial Intelligence has come a long way and can do many things, and this has created a huge controversy in the marketing world. Every professional you ask about AI will always pause and either make a face or sigh, and it’s very present in both small agencies like Thinkhouse, all the way to the big dogs like Microsoft. Luckily, our visit to each of these companies today offered some valuable advice, both a bit similar: AI isn’t going to take your job if you learn how to use it. This advice is somehow both scary and reassuring, because there is a lot to understand about AI, but knowing that no matter what company you work for, everyone is also facing the same challenge. Something that I had heard both from a peer researching Thinkhouse, and our speakers today, was that an experiment was done where a human-made and an AI-made ad were both placed into social campaigns to see the performance of each one. The result: there is still something about humans that AI does not have, but what exactly is it? Will AI eventually figure out what that differentiator is and learn it? Regardless, both Microsoft and Thinkhouse gave us the advice to learn from AI, and how to use it to supplement our own work, because being able to use it properly and effectively is the future of marketing.

Something else that was really interesting about the site visits was the environment and culture, and how much they differ. Places like Microsoft and Thinkhouse are clearly very different, because of their size, age, and business focus, but even comparing the giants like Microsoft and Google present unexpected differences. When we visited Google, the tour put a lot of emphasize on the outside-work facilities like yoga, games, food, and all activities that make it so you don’t have to leave the area. However, this makes it more difficult to establish a work-life balance, which I gather is not Google’s main goal. They have an extremely competitive culture, and I can’t imagine that they would really have the opportunity to relax and enjoy the facilities without the added consequence of working late. Microsoft on the other hand, provides some perks like yoga, food, and lounging areas, but our tour guides clearly said that they’re leaving the office by 4:30-5:00 everyday because work is work, not playtime. This culture seemed a lot more healthy, because although these facilities are available, they aren’t so excessive that you can’t have separate mentalities outside of constant work. Of course, Microsoft is highly well known and must be very competitive, but watching the people present in-office today, it looked much more collaborative than Google did, seeing people talking over their laptops and looking engaged with each other. It was much more interesting to here the people at Microsoft talk about real projects they’re working on and real platforms they use, and having play-doh competitions as far less important, for example. Asking the people at Google about GA4 or Google Ads was something I was so excited for, but even though the three men were in three different areas (where surely one of them could’ve had some level of detailed knowledge), they only seemed excited to talk (and frankly, brag) about the facilities. Either way, both Google and Microsoft have a kind of corporate stiffness to them that provides good structure, but less flexibility.

Through a completely different lens, Thinkhouse had a very interesting, fun vibe. As our speaker there had said, they have a lot more flexibility with how they want to run things because they aren’t owned by a large corporation. The people seemed more fun and silly and excited to try new things because they have the freedom to do so, and oftentimes its the crazy ideas that become breakthroughs. I think the culture at Thinkhouse is best described as creative and energetic, and I think a huge component of this is that about half of their employees are part of the creative team. The marketing industry thrives on new and innovative ideas, so having that motivation to bring those ideas to life is crucial. However, that motivation is also necessary to be a big competitor, because Thinkhouse isn’t as large. Even though they aren’t working in the tech industry like Microsoft, having the goal of being that kind of industry giant for their industry requires a lot of work, so I’m sure that provides a lot of added stress.

Overall, considering Google, GEC, Microsoft, Thinkhouse, and Docusign, I think my favorite culture was Microsoft. Having an established base company feels more steady and concrete, but the work-life balance vibe was much better than I had expected. The employees seemed to be solid in collaboration, progressiveness, and healthy mentalities about their work, at least from what we heard. I think it would be really cool to work for a tech giant like Microsoft, but wouldn’t feel like I’m constantly at a breaking point trying to keep up and prove I belong. Company culture should be a guide to whether or not you fit with a company and can thrive there, because it’s made up of the business model and business goals, but also the people and the environment.

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