With a few exceptions, available literature tends to uphold the view that technology has become a universally relevant concept in every business organization. Some argue that a consistent and positive relationship exists between Marketing and Technology. This paper therefore, proposes that with its effects on marketing, organizations and practitioner can create a symbiotic relationship between Marketing and Technology with the ultimate objective of sustaining or improving current marketing performances of these organizations. Our focus is to examine technology (ies) and it(s) effect on marketing activities and decisions.
Drucker, (1980), observed that the business environment of the recent past has been characterized by turbulence. This has resulted on the reassessment of the growth prospects of various industries as well as dramatic upheavals in the relative positions of firms within these industries. The causes of these changes are numerous but it is by now apparent that a major cause of this upheaval is technology.
Although technology has been ignored in most traditional considerations of economic or managerial behavior, it is no longer taken for granted. It has even risen to the forefront in debates on world and national economic policies and on the future of specific industries and markets. This paper attempts to examine the issues associated with technology in marketing and its impact not so much as in terms of the “quantity” of work and time employed to do the work, but rather in terms of the “quality” of the activity in marketing and its contributions.
Today, marketers use technology to improve the quality of products and services offering. These new and evolving technologies coupled with increase management sophistication have transformed marketing from the creative art of yesterday into a true business discipline of today. In addition, it has resulted in developments that have provided important information and opportunities that have helped to meet customer needs and helped organizations to serve their customers better. Examples are scientific knowledge, research, inventions and innovations that result in new or improved goods and services, advances in manufacturing technology, improvements in distribution, better pricing techniques, etc. Most recently, the internet, an extensive global network of computes have made the distance between marketers, suppliers, and customer even shorter than what it use to be. In essence, we will discuss technology and merging aspects as they affect marketing practices and decisions.
DEFINITION OF TECHNOLOGY
The Advance Learners Dictionary described technology as the application of practical or mechanical sciences to industry or commerce and the methods, theory and practices governing such applications. An attempt to adopt this opinion will focus attention on machines and equipments in business. Technology has become more abstract, and its scope more defined that earlier thought.
Pareauct and McCarthy (2003) opined that technology is the application of science to convert an economy’s resources to output. This only assumes that technology in business is a conversion process that enables firms to exploit available resources in new ways. Again, we see it as the application of science in the production and services. This also excludes auxiliary services in business.
The definition of Bateman and Sneel (1999), seems to be more appropriate to describe technology in marketing. They see technology as “the methods, process, system and skills used to transform resources into products and services. This results in the commercialization of science by the systematic application of scientific knowledge to business products, process or services”. Jobber (2000) seems to confirm the above definition by outlining the following factors as important to technology in marketing. They are technology, methods, process systems and skills;
a.Technology: As the method, process, system and skill that enable an organization to acquire, analyze and use the vast amount of data involved in managing its resources and customers. The technology needs to deliver the right information about the right customer at the right time so that the business can achieve its role in managing its resources and customers effectively, and efficiently. b.Method: For the technology to be effective there is a need for an understanding of the values, attitudes and behavior of various customers, prospects and stakeholders in the marketing process. This will help the organization to focus on such areas as the effective retention and acquisition of business customers for its long-term benefits.
c.Process: Everything should be in a series of actions directed to provide a clear and consistent process for managing customer relations needed to be developed and reviewed in the light of changing customer needs and requirements in modern times. d.Systems: The technology should be able to provide some interacting elements that will form a collective entity. The implementation of the plans and processes that will deliver the value proposition to customer in every transaction must be synchronized and coordinated. e.Skills: The skills expected should involve special ability to perform in a given task. Key elements such as organizational structure should support effective customer management, role identification, training requirements for resources and employee satisfaction.
The above factors are crucial to an organization’s ability to adapt to evolving technologies that may affect marketing technologies. Nickels, et al (1999), observed that technology in business has often changed names and roles over time. It started as data processing, information system, information technology virtualization and now to knowledge technology. This must have influenced Heineke (2003) to highlight of four stages in technology development as system-centric, PC-centric, Network Centric and Information Centric.
Whatever the stage, the fact remains that technology in business or marketing has not reduced the amount of work but rather significantly changed the type of work performed by people in organizations. It has not replaced human labor, but induced deep and enduring changes in marketing environment. As technology affects the realm of marketing, as used in everyday life, its impact increases. This impact consists in not only a shift to different type of activities in business but also an encompassing effect on marketing in terms of quality. This quality is achieved by offering more comfort to customers as well as increasing the smoothness, user friendliness and efficacy in the performance of marketing activities.
Generally, as technology in marketing advances, it might be possible to foresee some more enduring trends in marketing activities. The focus would then be on future issues on how to improve the quality of products and services provided by marketing for years to come.
MARKETING AND TECHNOLOGY
As stated above, technology has passed through well-defined stages. The history of marketing also shows very specific phases of growth from distribution, merchandizing, salesmanship, branding, advertising, database marketing to one on one marketing (Menton 2003). There existed a symbiotic relationship between technology and marketing. For example, from the early days of transportation, coming of radio, television, to computers networks. The effect of this relationship has been the steady reduction of the distance between the firm and the consumer.
All these stages were greatly influenced in part by better and faster ways of doing business. As a business activity, marketing is facing a new and more complex environment. Technology, which affects this environment, has become very dynamic and highly volatile. Marketing and technology have become two of the most important aspects of any modern business. They share the skills and resources that are needed to power a successful and profitable enterprise.
TECHNOLOGIES AFFECTING MARKETING
Technology has been acknowledged as one of the most dynamic factors affecting business of today. It has spawn a myriad of applications that have potentially and dramatically impacted existing markets and different participants in the marketing activities like final consumers, sellers, seller of complementary service, intermediaries, information providers and business competitors. There is an unending and rapid advance in technologies that have led to amazing growth in knowledge technology.
There are emerging technologies that have shown their usefulness given impressive declines in cost. The emerging and enduring technology in marketing as outlined by Shugan (2008), are i.Search and Engines: The internet now provides a wide variety of services for finding websites sellers, service people, product information, archival information, messages, reviews, announcements and search engines. The search engines are integral parts of the internet as a distribution channel. They help to disseminate information about products, brands and services of many firms. They allow for selected information, narrow buyers choice, increased assortment and targeting of particular items and customers. Examples of these search engines are; www.google.com, ww.yahaoo.com; www.msn.com; www.ask.com, etc. ii.Biometrics and Smartcards: Biometric is the automated identification of a person made by comparisons of physical physiology or behavioral traits to digital template.
This technology provides an effective tool for countering undesirable arbitrage and provides the ability to identify a buyer from those only observing a buy. It also allows consumers to buy in advance and consumer later. On the other hand, smart cards are credit cards that contain chips with information on individual consumer. The cards allow users to both identify themselves and communicate private information. This technology has facilitated the Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and credit cards that have redefine the concept of place in marketing. ii.Mobile or Wireless Access Devices: This technology involves mostly the use of mobile phones and other Personal Digital Assistants popularly called PDAs, to access information from the internet about products and services. Their advantage includes, ubiquity, reach ability, convenience, security and privacy and personalization. The technology includes Short Messages Services (SMS), Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and 3G – a new generation of mobile service.
iv.Interactive Digital Television: This offers similar facilities like the internet but provided with a simpler interface that can be operated from a remote control. It allows for distribution, information and participation interactive ness. This includes Asynchronous Transfer Mode, and Personal Communication services. v.M-Commerce and GPS Tracking: Mobile commerce (M-commerce) is the use of various information and communication technologies that allow the mobile exchange of information. It includes the use of a variety of devices such as mobile phones, wireless internet, and personal digital assistants. With the Global Positioning System (GPS), these devices can enable the users to determine their precise location on the earth surface. When it is linked to communication and computational components, they can transmit, locate and do location-based computation.
They can be used to identify buyers and when it is inked to inventory system, could help to find the closest outlet for a particular product or service. vi.Enhanced Computational Speed: There is a remarkable increase in computing power. This has obviously spanned an enormous, number of opportunities for marketing. The increase in speed allows sellers of products and services to use sophisticated tools to analyze traditional database and continue to improve targeting strategies. These databases include information on automobiles, biomedical equipments, distribution devices, communication system, basic office equipments, etc. Business customers can now visit websites like visiting stores and even do their shopping on-line.
THE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY ON MARKETING IN NIGERIA
The market place which is the interest of marketers is not what is use to be. Technology has shaken the foundation of marketing in several distinct and profound ways. It has affected marketing and marketing functions in Nigeria the following ways.
Technology has allowed for the personalization of direct marketing activities and effects. Postal telecommunication and electronic correspondence can now be addressed specifically to individual customers. This has put the consumers in control, by giving the power of choice to them. Consumers can now get marketing messages where they want them and how they want them and most importantly, if they want them at all.
Again, technology has also changed the media landscape. It is the foundation for the introduction of a vast array of new media alternatives. This has increased the reach and targeting power of marketers through the evolution and development of the internet, pod casting, blogging, I-pod and mobile technology. This has made it possible for a sponsor of an advertising message to select millions of messages and narrow cast any of them to millions of different individuals. It has changed how companies communicate with their customers and made marketing more scientific in the country.
Furthermore, technology has completely transformed the measurement platform. That which was once considered to be beyond the scope of quantification has bowed to the reality that everything can fact be measured no matter how challenging or complex. This has helped to capture customer trends and behaviors in databases. Marketing strategists to define new markets, segment markets and plan marketing actions then apply these databases.
Technology has crested a paradigm shift in marketing, which is referred to as Customer Relationship Management (CRM). This marketing-led approach helps to combine relationship marketing, direct marketing and data based marketing to build and sustain long-term business with customers. This seeks to establish long-term committed, trusting and cooperative relationship with customers that is characterized by openness, genuine concern for the delivery of high quality goods and services, responsiveness to customers. It suggests fair dealings and the marketers’ willingness to sacrifice short-term advantage for long-term gain. Technology provides the very foundation for effective customer relationship management in Nigeria.
In addition, technology has become sustenance in a very short period and it has dramatically changed how consumers live their lives and how marketers need to address their customers. The influence of technology has grown into a macro-cultural shift in all aspects of society. This has affected the behaviors of consumer in all segments, of every society. It has helped to build “product or service communities”. An information gathering process that aims to access primary target groups and develop an enthusiastic community of customers for a firm’s products and services across the country.
It has further widened the range of goods and services available to consumers and impact on companies’ promotion strategies. Components such as internet, CD-ROMs, etc enables buyer and sellers to interact on-line. They provide facilities that can be used to identify sales leads, conduct web-based marketers to make tough choices about how to spend marketing money and have shortened the window of time necessary to prove marketing success to business management and other stakeholders in Nigeria.
An emerging definition of convenience in the country includes anytime, anywhere, anyway delivery of easy to use products and services. Electronic delivery of products and services has helped to create networks of websites and customers who sell, resell and recommend products and services offerings to their friends and other customers through these facilities. This has led to affiliate marketing across Nigeria.
Finally, break through in technology have enabled the marketing of service that were until recently considered impractical in the country. The digitization of data content has brought new capabilities to interactive services and facilitated the creation of completely new classes of data. This is allowing an unimaginable quantity of information to be pumped into households via Internet, interactive devices, etc. This has facilitated the development of rich interactive services by marketers and marketing practitioners in the country.
Technology affects marketing in two basic ways, i.e new product/services and new processes of doing things in marketing. This technology is changing both the internal and external landscape of marketing. These forces of change facilitated by new and emerging technologies suggests a new emphasis of marketing as a strategic way of doing business has changed. Given this imperative of change, those responsible for marketing decisions in Nigeria must learn new ways to respond to the new business concept of “survival of the fastest”.
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