The assimilation of information technology in marketing practice : a stages theory - transactional to relational marketing approach
Two major contemporary marketing issues are the focus of this research, namely the assimilation of IT and relationship marketing into marketing practice. The particular focus of this study is on the inclusion of an IT dimension to marketing practice. Following the literature review two frameworks were chosen for this study. The suggested continuum of transactional to relational marketing approaches (Coviello et al., 1997; Coviello et al., 2001 a) and the Stages Theory (Nolan, 1973, Nolan, 1979, Nolan, 1993). Against this background the research objective for this study was to research the how and why issues related to the concept that IT assimilation in marketing practice occurs in stages and there is an IT dimension to the transactional to relational continuum. A multiple cross sectional case based research was designed. Fourteen cases were selected, seven with automational and seven with informational assimilation of IT in marketing. Data collection techniques were predominantly in-depth interviews and observations of IT systems in operation. The data was analysed with the aid of the Nudist software package. The findings revealed that there is an IT dimension to relationship marketing practices and that IT assimilation does occur in stages. More particularly it was evident that there were major challenges to IT assimilation in marketing related to the stages of IT assimilation in companies. The main contribution of this theory building research is the development of an IT relational exchange and managerial dimensions along the transactional to relational perspectives of marketing approaches (Coviello et al., 1997). A further contribution was the inclusion of the stages theory of automational, informational and transformational IT assimilation. This highlights the continuous nature of IT assimilation in marketing and the practical steps that marketers can take to progress and exploit IT in marketing.