Judging by the Account Planning Group's recent conference, there is a fair degree of angst about what the future holds for the marketing strategist.

The APG conference had the title 'Strategy vs Robots', implying a future where strategists or planners are usurped by machines.

At the conference, delegates were relatively upbeat about how machines might augment, rather than replace, their jobs. A talk by Rushi Bhavsar, a young data scientist from Grey London, gave an insight into the kind of skills planners might need in future.

As Bhavsar's talk showed, the demands placed on the 'strategy' function within marketing services are changing – more than ever, there is a need to think of strategy outside of a cycle of communication.

There are two major strands to this:

  • The strategic challenges of 'real time' data, always-on platforms, and the need to optimise the path to purchase;
  • The expectation on strategists to deliver 'business insight' – not just the insight that unlocks a great creative idea, but an insight that could influence R&D, lead to a new service for a brand's consumers, or change corporate direction.

Both can be viewed as huge opportunities – but how do strategists seize them?

That's the theme of our annual 'Future of Strategy' debate in the Palais at Cannes. We've brought together five great speakers from different markets and different parts of the industry to share their opinions:

  • Adam Ferrier Global CSO, cummins&Partners (moderator)
  • Dom Boyd Group Head of Strategy, Adam & Eve DDB; Chair, Account Planning Group
  • Sandy Thompson Global Planning Director, Y&R
  • Debbie Weinstein Managing Director of Brand Solutions & Innovations - EMEA, Google
  • Chris Stephenson APAC Head of Strategy & Planning, PHD

We want them to tell us how they are tackling these issues – and, of course, what clients are actually willing to pay for.

The debate takes place on Thursday 23rd June - if you're heading to Cannes, register for the session here.

If not, use #warcincannes on Twitter to ask our panel a question on this topic, then watch out for video and other coverage of the session after the event.