Purpose. The role of technologies within the Macromarketing field has been overlooked yet their impacts have been profound on society and marketing. Technologies have disrupted market structures in both what and how value is created and delivered to a range of stakeholders such as firms, customers and others. In recent years, technological advances include search tools, social media, content marketing, big data, cryptocurrencies, self-monitoring and the quantified-self, in-home and in-car voice-activated assistants, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Increasingly, these have AI-based (artificial intelligence) algorithms and smart-device interfaces that have influenced major shifts in how markets operate and consumers experience traditional and emerging products and services.
Examples include sensor-based technologies that automate supply chains in firms and service systems. Automata, including robots and AI devices, provide novel services and engagement platforms, such as policing, health, and customer service desk information. Today, robots are being considered as caregivers, providing cognitive and affective support that encompasses teaching, learning and emotional agency for consumers. We also see a rise in automated social-presence actors: technology infusions for service contexts that deliver consistent consumer experiences.
Relevance. What makes these technology applications pertinent to marketers? It is not only the human-like ways in which devices process data, but how their outputs are viewed by users as demonstrating emotion, empathy and human-level understanding, evoking feelings of attachment. Drawing on robotics and AI, Marketing researchers are predicting rapid convergence in the next 10 to 30 years of AI-based and intelligent augmentation (IA) systems in support of people. Robots will evolve from programmed tools to semi-autonomous and autonomous entities, and extend their anthropomorphic projection to become legal non-persons, displaying a person-like consciousness that raises important questions about the nature of human relationships.
Technology researchers predict that humanoid robots and cyborgs will become the dominant form of service provider in the future. Preliminary research suggests, however, there is consumer fear of such hybridity. Some researchers have reported that consumers believe they may lose their humanness as they augment themselves with new cyborg-driven capabilities. Today, increased computer processing capacities support new industrial applications of technologies to replace the human workforce in an increasingly diverse range of contexts. As such, there is a need to understand the breadth of issues that will impact stakeholders for marketing-related activities. To what extent will the technologies emancipate customers and transform markets for the benefit of the stakeholders in the process?
Conference. This VSI is related to the 2018 Macromarketing Conference, to be held in Leipzig, Germany on July 10-13. The related URL for the Conference’s Call for Papers is available at: http://society.macromarketing.org/announcement/conference/society/Macromarketing-Conference-2018-CfP/, and the related track is named the same as this CFP.
Topics. In this VSI, we call for papers that address any aspect of the roles of emergent technologies and their application in disrupting and transforming markets. Topics may be conceptual or issues-based, applied or practice-based, on:
- Market structures and roles of emergent technologies in their development;
- Technology-led market adaptations and their influence on customers and firms;
- Decision-support systems and algorithmic design for markets and marketing structures;
- Interface design (device-led or ubiquitous) and their influence on human behavior;
- Big data and open data initiatives and the roles of facilitating structures; legislation, market forces, etc.;