Academic journal article Irish Journal of Management

Managing Information Technology Assimilation: A Marketing Perspective

Academic journal article Irish Journal of Management

Managing Information Technology Assimilation: A Marketing Perspective

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Managing information technology (IT) is a major challenge within organisations. Despite the proliferation of IT in business there are still major IT developments needed and barriers that must be overcome before the full potential of IT can be achieved. This paper presents research findings from a recent study into IT assimilation within the marketing departments of a selection of the top 500 companies in Ireland.The study enriches our understanding of IT assimilation in general and for marketing specifically.

At the core of this research study are multi-disciplinary frameworks, one from the IT literature and one from the marketing literature. This research expands and builds on our knowledge of both marketing and IT theory and practice by adding an IT perspective to the transactional to relational marking framework and within the IT field adds a marketing dimension to the stages theory. The major finding of this study is that despite the enormous pressure on marketers to introduce and utilise a vast myriad of ITs, little is known within this field about the impact of these ITs, optimum usage and how to overcome the major internal and external barriers that exist. The findings suggest that marketers that appreciate the learning curve of IT assimilation and challenge the IT applications to deliver marketing-orientated solutions will ultimately reap the benefits of IT.

INTRODUCTION

Marketing's assimilation of IT is an important and topical research agenda. Much of the hype in the popular press and talk of the dot.com bubble and the technology crash centres on marketing's use of IT at the customer interface and for internal operations. This research, through the use of two frameworks, the stages theory (Nolan, 1973a; 1973b; 1996; Nolan et al., 1993) and the Contemporary Marketing Practice (CMP) Transactional to Relational Marketing Framework (Brodie et al., 1997; Coviello et al., 1997; 2001a; 2001b; 2002; Coviello and Brodie, 2001) contributes to the ongoing debate in this area and provides empirically supported observations on the reality of contemporary marketing practice and IT assimilation. The core finding is that IT is not the wonder drug of the 90s and IT assimilations take time to mature. Technical revolutions have always taken time to develop fully, as they force people and organisations to change current behaviour and/or learn new skills (Perez, 2002).

This paper commences with a discussion of the role of IT in marketing and reviews the frameworks which were used to research the assimilation of IT within marketing. This is followed by a description of the case study research design chosen for the study. The subsequent section explores the findings from the study, which are documented through the use of two of the research propositions.The paper concludes with the practical and theoretical implications of this study.

THE ROLE OF IT IN MARKETING

IT has played a critical role in business over the past ten years, as its assimilation progressed within and across departments and organisations. The investment in IT during the 1990s can be classed as the pivotal investment made by companies, with IT representing over 45 per cent of all business equipment investments (King, 1998; Margherio et al., 1998). In general, IT implementations have had a dominant automational focus on internal productivity centred on the manufacturing and finance functions, which has seen their efficiencies increase (Sheth and Sisodia, 1995; Galliers and Baets, 1998). Empirical studies reveal that IT use in marketing is also predominantly for productivity or automational purposes (Domegan and Donaldson, 1994; Palihawadana and Delfino, 1994; Bruce et al., 1996; Fletcher and Wright, 1997; Leverick et al., 1997; 1998). Leverick et al. (1997: 91) suggest that "far from the radical transformation of marketing promised by IT, the use of IT for marketing has thus far focused primarily on the routine and tactical activities". …

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