Can big data technology be used to replace creative marketing?

Using big data is a careful balance of staying relevant and being creepy, according to marketers at the SAS Forum 2013 in Sydney on Thursday, but it’s also left many arguing how much creativity can be replaced with technology.

That’s the message debated between panellists from five different organisations, including Medibank Australia marketing and digital general manager Chris Caroll, National Australia Bank customer analytics and research general manager Gautam Bose, the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising CEO Jodie Sangster, Virgin Australia loyalty and customer relationship management general manager Phil Gunter, and SAS VP and chief marketing officer Jim Davis.

While marketers may be experts in getting their product in front of people, Davis put aside the pitch, opting to show how even in healthcare, big data has life-changing effects and very real ethical dilemmas.

“There are drugs out there that today could have been on the market that will absolutely cure a disease in me, but if you have the same disease, that drug will kill you based on your genetic make-up. So that drug never gets to market.”

He argued that human genome testing opens the market to creating designer drugs that could be tailored to a specific person, saving lives in the process, but could also be used for more nefarious purposes.

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