Marketing, IT & the Web

Introduction

First, Marketing Management has become IT and the Web.  Now many marketing people have not accepted the new Holistic Marketing approach however the world has changed.  Today, Marketing (Holistic Marketing) is all about involving all stakeholders and measurements, statistics and analytics and IT and the Web not only drives these changes but facilitates solutions in new and remarkable ways. To illustrate the change consider the following example of how Marketing needs to evolve and how to date (written in 2008) it had not evolved.

The next time you walk through a mall or any public place look at the banner advertisements.  How many of them do not have QR code tags?  Everyone major Banner/Add that doesn’t have a QR code is out of touch as it represents 1980’s/1990’s broadcast (one directional) advertising.  This of course even failed on the Web (i.e. dot.com crash).  Adding a QR code costs almost nothing to add to a banner advertisement and it provides 2-way communication which is the very essence of contemporary Marketing introduced below.  Let’s return to broadcast advertising (radio, tv, newspapers, banners) as you may see a rise in sales but there is no way to assess if the reason was due to the broadcast advertisement.  Now consider the QR code.  If a consumer snaps the QR code on their phone, and implementation is done properly with session management, you immediately know the time, the place and the consumer’s platform.  You immediately know your message “got through” (I dislike the word “got” but there are times it drives home the point).  So a QR code can give you measurable results and again, everything today is measured (e.g. ROI).  This model provides even more information as what if the consumer visits your site and then immediately leaves without exploring your Website further?  Now we’ve identified there is something wrong with our Website’s landing page and navigation since this consumer was obviously engaged and interested but our Website sent them packing.  If this customer that was interested in our product/service leaves, what is the likelihood a random visitor finds what they are looking for?  What if the customer enters our site, starts to purchase something and then leaves 3 steps into our process funnel, well maybe something is wrong with our checkout process funnel.  What if we determine the majority of the QR code scans at Crossgates Mall take place between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.  Well we know know that the most effective time for our radio ads would be between 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. since people have to drive to the mall and with a little more research and demographic information obtained from the Weblogs (or Facebook sign-in if you can accomplish that), you can identify the stores that play targeted radio stations further optimizing your exposure and yield.  There is more but all this is essentially free if you know what you are doing.  Now go back to the companies and advertising agencies that are not doing this and well, they’re in the dark and living in the 80’s/90’s.

Now consider the above with respect to Millennial CMS Expectations and you will see that any hiccup not only results in a lost millennial consumer but could result in losing other consumers in their social graph.

So what can we do as CIS students?  Marketing and contemporary emergent holistic marketing are of course not presented in CIS texts and students seldom have time in the CIS curriculum to take a Marketing elective. In accord with the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, CIS students and professionals must not only remain abreast of technology but also evolving systems analysis and collaborative practices therefore I provide the following to serve as a fundamental basis and Marketing supplement to the CIS curriculum.

Marketing and Holistic Marketing Definition

Miriam Webster dictionary defines holistic as “relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts”.  Encyclopedia Britannica (2008) defines marketing as “the sum of activities involved in directing the flow of goods and services from producers to consumers… the way an organization optimizes opportunity with respect to its objectives and resources”.  From a societal perspective, marketing may be viewed as a social process to organize and distribute resources to meet the material needs of its citizens (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008; Kotler & Keller, 2007).  Expanding on this definition from a managerial perspective, the American Marketing Association (2008) defines Marketing as “an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders”.

Now take a 2nd look at the above paragraph and its definitions by revered sources.  Look at the Encyclopedia Britannica definition and read between the lines, what do you see?  The supply and value chain!  And what manages or facilitates management of the supply and value chain?  IT/IS!   Now read the next 2 definitions and and what are they professing…. social process and communication.  Where have social processess and communication moved…. the Web!!!

Marketing is a critical component for sustained organizational fiscal stability and is not limited to selling and advertising but also includes market research, product development, packaging, pricing, distribution, customer service and business analytics (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008, Kotler & Keller, 2007; Webster 1992).  Furthermore, it must be emphasized that marketing is not constrained to particular types of organizations, economies, functions, philosophies or processes (Kotler & Keller, 2007).   Citing these varied definitional bases, we can conclude holistic marketing is a broad, integrated and encompassing approach to marketing with demographic, economic, physical, technological, political and social facets.

History of Holistic Marketing

Encyclopedia Britannica (2008) cites that economic science became a formal discipline in the 19th century coinciding with the Industrial Revolution.  The study of marketing as a discipline can be traced to the early 20th century as an offshoot of economic science (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008).  At its inception, marketing extended economic science by studying the role of intermediaries and economic functions other than price in an attempt to determine and meet consumer and organizational needs at a profit (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008). Throughout the 20th century, marketing evolved from the Industrial Revolution’s production oriented, product oriented and selling oriented concepts arriving at the marketing oriented approach in the mid 1950’s (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008; Kotler & Keller, 2007).

The marketing oriented approach differentiated itself from previous marketing concepts by increasingly focusing on meeting the needs of the consumer consistent with the definitional basis provided above.  The marketing oriented approach has been empirically proven to provide superior performance and achieves this performance by using market research, business analytics and increased communications to: (a) efficiently and effectively identify current and future customer needs, (b) drive product design and distribution, (c) segment and target customers in the marketplace, (d) provide superior quality, value and services to customers, and (d) promote sustained two-way communications between all constituencies (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008;  Davenport & Harris, 2007; Jaworski, & Kohli, 1993; Kotler & Keller, 2007; Rutherford, Boles,  Barksdale, &  Johnson, 2008;  Slater & Naver, 1994; Webster, 1992).

Recently, we have witnessed a remarkable acceleration of globalization attributed to the emergence of the Internet and Web technologies that provide a standardized, platform independent, accessible and converged global communications architecture and infrastructure (Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 2008; Friedman, 2005; Laudon & Laudon, 2004; Pearlson & Saunders, 2006; Rainer, Turban,& Potter, 2007 Robbins & Judge, 2007; Satinger, Jackson & Burd, 2002).  The emergence and rapid evolution of this digital communications channel has: (a) enhanced and shortened the physical and service global supply and value chains through Web Services (Friedman, 2005; Kamoun, 2007; Pearcy, Parker & Giunipero, 2008), (b) provided the basis for  user generated collective intelligence repositories and knowledge bases (Boddie, Contardo, & Childs, 2007; Cetron & Davies, 2008, Friedman, 2005), and (c) leveled the business playing field by providing ubiquitous access to information to anyone with Internet access (Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 2008; Davenport & Harris, 2007; Kotler & Keller, 2007; Friedman, 2005; Rutherford, Boles,  Barksdale, &  Johnson, 2008).

The end result of accelerated globalization from a marketing perspective as stated by Information Week’s Robert Preston (2008) is “an economic force for expansion and prosperity paving the way for organizations to access new markets, products, materials, talents, relationships, meeting needs of citizens and elevating standards of living” (¶ 2I assert holistic marketing is the natural managerial response to the Internet driven “Information Age” characterized by ubiquitous information availability, a global surplus of goods and services and a complex dynamic global market environment (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008; Kotler & Keller, 2007; Robbins & Judge, 2007).

Holistic marketing’s primary tenet is the understanding that every component of an organization and every actor in the value chain must embrace the holistic marketing orientation as a component of his or her job description and necessarily integrates all facets of business from a market-oriented perspective (Kotler & Keller, 2007; Webster, 1992).  As holistic marketing has evolved, we have observed two trends: (a) increasing reliance on market research and business analytics, critically necessary to manage the accelerating complexity of today’s diverse global marketplace, market space and meta-markets, and (b) a converged set of managerial competencies as every manager must remain abreast of advances in technology, understand IS driven business analytics and apply holistic marketing principles throughout the value chain (Davenport & Harris, 2007;Kotler & Keller, 2007; McKie, 2004; Webster, 1992).

As you have repeatedly heard me state, I believe this Internet driven “Information Revolution” characterized by an increasingly complex and dynamic global marketplace, critical time to market constraints and newly empowered consumers will have as great an impact on society as the Industrial Revolution’s impact that gave rise to economic science and marketing as formal disciplines.

Holistic Marketing Analytics and Planning

 As Slater and Narver (1994) and Michael Porter (1985) assert, businesses must sustain a competitive advantage if they are to realize superior performance.  The American Marketing Association’s online dictionary (2008) defines competitive advantage as:

“a match between the distinctive competences of a firm and the factors critical for success within the industry that permits the firm to outperform its competitors… Providing superior customer value requires understanding of environment its customers, competitors, technologies and alternatives”.

Holistic marketing can achieve and sustain competitive advantage in today’s dynamic, complex global environment by continually integrating marketing throughout the value and supply chains in an attempt to continually discover, cull, sustain and exceed customer satisfaction and expectations (Jaworski & Kohli, 1993; Kotler & Keller, 2007; Slater & Narver, 1994).   Now as soon as I state “value and supply chains” we now see the integrated nature of Marketing, IT & the Web.

Davenport and Harris (2007) state “marketing is rapidly becoming a highly analytical discipline… and it is virtually impossible to run an effective campaign or build strong brands across diverse customer touch points without serious analytical effort” (p 16). Kotler and Keller (2007) cite that marketing is part art and part science however; Davenport and Harris (2007) make a stronger statement by suggesting that marketing has become 70% math and 30% creativity. This statement intuitively reflects holistic marketing’s increasing reliance on IS supported business analytics coupled with Internet facilitated market research to shape strategic and tactical policies and plans.

Marketing research includes but is not limited to environmental scanning, market segmentation, market targeting and relationship management.  Stewart McKie (2004) defines environmental scanning as “the acquisition of information about events, trends and relationships in an organization’s environment, the knowledge of which will be of assistance to top executives in identifying and understanding strategic threats and opportunities” (p 32).  Slater and Narver (2004) assert it is critical to understand the financial dynamics of segmented and targeted buyers as well as all vertically related markets upstream and downstream.  Consistent with the holistic marketing tenet, Slater and Narver continue to state that this requires an organization to continuously monitor and improve customer satisfaction throughout and following the transaction process.  Again, the information echos Web and Internet.

So where are we today, in order to improve market research we necessarily have an increased reliance on IS supported business analytics through accessible marketing dashboards, communications and collaboration to achieve effective market planning (Kotler & Keller, 2007).  Importantly, we are concomitantly witnessing the emergence and rapid evolution of IS that automate environmental scanning (e.g. Nexcerpt and CyberAlert).  In Discover How to Evolve Complex, Yet Agile, Customer Communication Strategies (Business Wire – anonymous, 2007), the author states that current software applications allow organizations of all sizes to offer more responsive and customer oriented marketing programs.   This of course assumes that the actors have the requisite IT and communication competencies consistent with my assertion that marketing and requires tight integration with and reliance on Human Resources since managers will increasingly require diverse and complex technical competencies.

Holistic Marketing Management

In 1992, Webster predicted a time when marketing would become a general management function rather than a specialist function.  This perspective has additional support as it has been shown that marketing managers possess similar or equivalent competencies to managers in other departments (Melaia, Abratt, & Bick, 2008). While not addressed in the history of holistic marketing above, I suggest the evolution of marketing management has mirrored the evolution Organizational Behavior (OB) and Information Systems (IS) analysis and design.  Marketing and OB have moved from hierarchical top down driven management philosophies to flat, team oriented, organic and holistic structures characterized by diverse, empowered, complimentary, integrated, democratic workforces (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2007; Jaworski & Kohli, 1993; Kotler & Keller, 2007; Robbins & Judge, 2007; Slater & Naver, 1994).  Information Systems Analysis and Design is a much younger discipline than marketing and OB however, current IS Best Practices advocate Joint Application Design (JAD) which involves and considers all affected constituents throughout the design process analogous to holistic marketing (Laudon & Laudon, 2004; Pearlson & Saunders, 2006; Satinger, Jackson & Burd, 2002).

It is my opinion that holistic marketing management is a converged approach consistent with the widespread convergence we are witnessing throughout the technologies and across many disciplines (Friedman, 2005; Kamoun, 2007; Pearlson & Saunders, 2007; Webster, 1992).   Furthermore, I predict we will see increased convergence between marketing and other disciplines most notably, Information Technology (IT) and Organizational Behavior (OB) since marketing managers must increasing rely on Information Systems and OB theory to analyze complex dynamic environments and achieve organizational collaboration and communication congruence across diverse constituencies (Davenport & Harris, 2007).  This perspective is also consistent with the cross-functional managerial competencies and organic structures fomented by OB research (Robbins & Judge, 2007).  Interestingly, this converged perspective of holistic marketing, OB and IT is in accord with the definition of holistic.

I believe there is considerable additional evidence to stimulate the marketing, OB, IS managerial convergence discussion and therefore I provide another example.  Kotler and Keller (2007) cite that transitioning from a marketing-oriented approach to a holistic marketing approach can induce conflict and I have personally observed this.

Holistic Marketing Elements

Having laid the basic principle and drivers of holistic marketing and citing the supporting evidence that holistic marketing can achieve superior performance (Jaworski & Kohli, 1993; Slater & Narver, 1994), I now analyze the four main elements or components of holistic marketing:(a) relationship marketing, (b) integrated marketing, (c) internal marketing, and (d) social responsibility marketing (Kotler and Keller, 2007).  I will address the four elements individually below however; I strongly assert the four elements are tightly integrated consistent with the holistic marketing definition, OB and IS JAD theory and application.   As a single example, consider that relationship marketing is heavily dependent on detailed and comprehensive communication congruence between culturally diverse global actors possessing disparate competencies suffused throughout the integrated value and supply chains.  This example illustrates relationship marketing’s integration and interdependence with integrated marketing’s value chain management, internal marketing’s human resource component and social marketing’s cultural component.

Relationship Marketing

The goal of relationship marketing is to develop and sustain mutually satisfying relationships throughout the supply and value chain that will subsequently optimize the customer’s perceived value and the organization’s customer lifetime value (Kotler & Keller, 2007).   Relationship marketing achieves this goal by focusing on continuing two-way communications through customer relationship management (CRM) and partner relationship management (PRM) (Kotler & Keller, 2007). The four key constituencies of relationship marketing according to Kotler and Keller (2007) are: (a) customers, (b) employees, (c) marketing partners (e.g. channels, suppliers, distributors), and (d) members of the financial community (e.g. shareholders, investors, analysts).

Slater and Narver (1994) state that every component in value chain and every consumer touch point is an opportunity to create value and build loyalty and subsequently capture a larger share of customer’s lifetime value.  With this basis, it is intuitive that effective relationship management requires considerable communication and the careful coordination of diverse personnel and resources.  I also assert effective relationship marketing will increasingly rely on IS supported market research and business analytics. The logical IS supported approach based on analytics provide marketing managers a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the capabilities and resources of all constituencies throughout the value chain necessary for effective relationship management.

Kotler and Keller (2007) assert successful relationship marketing can lead to the creation of a marketing network and that competition is increasingly between these emergent marketing networks.  Effective networks can foment innovation and the dynamic capabilities necessary to maintain a competitive advantage in complex and rapidly evolving environments (Prieto, & Easterby-Smith, 2006; Sachwald, 2008; Zhang, 2007).  Additionally, successful relationship marketing leading to marketing network creation has the opportunity to enhance various tacit assets such as brand awareness and public relations further facilitating an organization’s ability to grow vertically and horizontally (Kotler & Keller, 2007).

Consistent with OB theory and practice, I suggest successful relationship marketing depends on employee empowerment to initiate and tailor CRM strategies optimizing customer value and when possible, CRM should be done on an individual customer basis (Kotler & Keller, 2007; Slater & Narver, 2007).   As previously cited, this is a change from a top-down management perspective to a flexible bottom-up democratic structure.  I assert this bottom-up approach will require the organization to allow employees to innovate without the fear of making a mistake and will require an innovative socialization process in contrast to a custodial socialization process to be discussed in internal marketing below.  As cited above, successful relationship management will also depend on the communication and IT competencies of the workforce further emphasizing relationship management’s integration with the human resources (HR) hiring, training and retention process.

While the Internet has provided dynamic accessible opportunities, it must be stridently noted that inferior relationship management can have disastrous negative effects since today’s consumers have the ability to publish their negative experiences instantly to the World Wide Web (WWW) and a global audience.  Consider that it is now possible for a single negative WWW post to be refuted by hundreds or thousands of respondents however; the single initial negative post can achieve a high Google page ranking by the GoogleBot indexer resulting from the respondents refuting the negative post (How Google Works, 2008).  It is possible and likely that subsequent consumer searches will find this negative review first and it will negatively influence their commitment and perceived value.  In this example, the well-known adage “Perception becomes reality” becomes a dire outcome

Integrated Marketing

Kotler and Keller (2007) state the goal of integrated marketing is to consistently devise and implement fully integrated marketing programs to create, communicate and deliver value through all chosen channels. The emergence of the Internet, WWW and business IS has had a profound effect on integrated marketing enhancing, and in some instances automating environmental scanning, opportunity analysis, market segmentation and targeting, supply and value chain integration and communication with all constituencies throughout the value chain (Business Wire – anonymous, 2007; McKie, 2007, Pearcy, Parker, & Giunipero, 2008; Preston, 2008; Zhang, 2007 ).

Information systems facilitate quick responses to changes in environment and the ability to sustain competitive advantage and dynamic capabilities through the rapid collection, processing and analysis of real time information (Pearlson & Saunders, 2007; Prieto, & Easterby-Smith, 2006). Marketing managers increasingly have access to this information through Marketing Decision Support Systems (MDSS) supported dashboards or score cards (Kotler & Keller, 2007).  It has been suggested that proper  IS support allows managers achieve superior performance by assessing the short and long term implications  competencies critical to remaining abreast of rapidly changing environments (Kotler & Keller, 2007; Prieto, & Easterby-Smith, 2006; Zhang, 2007).

Citing the excess capacity of global production capabilities and resulting increased competition, organizations must seek geographic areas offering comparative economic advantages to optimize the efficiency of their supply and value chains and thereby remain competitive (Robbins & Judge, 2007).  IS supported dynamic capability is necessary to create strategic plans and manage this increased complexity of vertical and horizontal expansion and maintain consistent supply and value chain integration through automated Web services (Kotler & Keller, 2007; Laudon & Laudon, ;Pearlson & Saunders; Prieto, & Easterby-Smith, 2006; Zhang, 2007).

I have documented the move towards integrated holistic marketing however, it must be noted that successful achievement of integrated holistic marketing is a work in progress.  Preston (2008) cites a dearth of supply-chain management professionals and a lack of consistency across organizations as the main inhibitors to achieving supply chain success. Recent research by Hubspan Inc. (2008) has found that 65% of the surveyed organizations experience failed Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) throughout the value and product chain.  Hubspan Inc. research discovered these shortcomings in EDI required manual workarounds or fixes on a continuing basis thus defeating the true advantages of the B2B electronic interchange process.  As previously cited, consistency and standardization is the key to integrated holistic marketing and this will surely improve across the board with the maturation of marketing IS, communications, Service Oriented Architectures and the emergence of the semantic Web 3.0.

While the impact of the Internet on producers is documented above, I suggest consumers have also been empowered with dynamic capabilities through the Internet allowing them to integrate internal and external competencies quickly calculating Lauterborn’s (1990) four Cs: (a) customer solution, (b) customer cost, (c) convenience, and (d) communication.    Consider that consumers can now quickly access and assess comparative products, their price, their comprehensive and individual component specifications from manufactures sites,  professional product reviews (e.g. Consumer Reports, CNet.com), user reviews and perspectives from Wiki’s, Blogs and user groups, and even the items resale value on EBay enabling them to quickly compute customer value and determine their commitment.

Internal Marketing

Holistic marketing requires that every organizational participant in the value chain embrace and present consistent communication and marketing principles.    From OB research, communication consistency requires high levels of comprehensive, detailed, trust based, congruent communication throughout the organization (Robbins & Judge, 2007).  Due to the increasing temporal and spatial separation of today’s globally outsourced workforce, communication is increasingly accomplished electronically through Computer Mediated Communications (CMC), which may increase democracy however; it is also prone to communication incongruence further exacerbating the dynamic environment’s complexity (Bikson, Eveland, & Gutek, 1989; Fujimoto, Bahfen, Fermelis, & Hartel, 2007; Mantovani, 1994; Stone, & Allen, 1990).

Management is responsible for shaping an organization’s values, culture and direction (Jaworski & Kohli, 1993; Robbins & Judge, 2007).  Consistent with OB research, I suggest internal marketing must begin with human resources (HR) process as organizations need to concern themselves with attracting and retaining diverse and complimentary individuals consistent with the organizational culture possessing the requisite skill sets and high levels of emotional and cognitive intelligence(Robbins & Judge, 2007).

Jaworski and Kohli (1993) assert that management must provide continuing reinforcement of the importance of marketing and empower their citizens to research markets, share market intelligence and remain abreast of consumer needs.  This perspective is consistent with OB theory since an empowered diverse participatory workforce is more adept at scanning the environment, discovering and applying innovations (Boddie, Childs & Contardo, 2007; Robbins & Judge, 2007).  Interestingly, Jaworski and Kohli (2007) suggest that moving to a holistic marketing orientation may also be viewed as innovative behavior.

Consistent with OB research, Jaworski and Kohli (1993) assert that a holistic marketing orientation fosters a sense of pride and organizational citizenship and commitment as all departments and individuals embrace the common goal of satisfying customers.   Organizational citizenship and organizational commitment are well supported by OB research as enhancing employee satisfaction and organizational productivity (Robbins & Judge, 2007).  Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) is fully in concert with holistic marketing since it has been shown that OCB stimulates actors to be spokes persons for a company to outside constituencies.

High on the list of skills and competencies asserted to lead to successful marketing managers are high levels of communication and collaboration competencies (Melaia, Abratt, & Bick, 2008).  This is intuitive from a holistic marketing perspective since marketing managers must maintain close relationships with all components of an organization.  I assert technology and computing competencies are becoming a requisite skill set of marketing managers citing the increased reliance on market research, business analytics, electronic communication and online collaboration.

Melaia, Abratt and Bick (2008) also found a holistic marketing orientation required certain level of risk taking and a willingness to accept occasional failures as part of normal life that is consistent with an innovative organizational socialization process in contrast to a custodial socialization process (King & Sethi, 1998). Furthermore, I advocate an innovative organizational socialization process as this can stimulate the necessary creativity and innovation of an empowered participatory workforce required for holistic marketing (King & Sethi, 1998; Kotler & Keller, 2007; Robbins & Judge, 2007).

Social Responsibility Marketing

The tenet of social responsibility marketing advocates an understanding and application of broader concerns from an ethical, environmental, legal and social contexts by enhancing consumer’s and society’s well-being (Kotler & Keller, 2007).  Social responsibility marketing places the focus on stakeholders rather than shareholders, which again is a holistic perspective.  Kotler and Keller (2007) advocate that social and ethical considerations be integrated throughout the marketing process and this of course has a fiscal impact increasing the need for and reliance on IS supported business analytics.

Now let’s look at an applied example from a company that understands the convergence of IT and Marketing

Apple Computer

I assert a truly comprehensive analysis of Apple Computer’s Holistic Marketing practices requires inside access to Apple’s personnel, their human resources hiring, training and retention practices, their internal communications and their OB structure and practices.  In the absence of this information, I will base my analysis on industry journal articles that correlate with Holistic Marketing’s four elements described above.

Apple Computer’s Performance and Market Research

As cited above, holistic marketing’s goal is to optimize an organization’s performance and Apple Computers appears to be thriving in the present marketplace.  Apple’s personal computer (PC) market share has risen from 3.4 percent in 2001 to its present market share of 8.1 percent, demonstrating better growth than any other manufacturer over the past several years and has resulted in Apple achieving the number three ranking in the U.S. PC vendor overall (Kotler & Keller, 2007; Marsal, 2007).  This is even more impressive when we consider that Apple Computers is not following the pervasive pc market trend of increasingly offering less expensive computers (Lane, 2008).

Since its inception, Apple has been the platform of choice and the market leader for audio, graphic and multimedia project work (Business Wire, 1996) and through this relationship, they built a solid reputation for robust, secure and accessible systems within this community (Hoffman, 2008). Apple successfully leveraged this reputation to become the leading student owned PC on College campuses as cited in Apple advertising <http://www.macnn.com/articles/07/10/08/apple.tops.brand.survey/>.  Furthermore, Apple’s market share within the College population is predicted to grow providing Apple with an enduring, committed lifelong consumer base as this population ages (AppleInsider Staff, 2008; Gonsalves, 2008a)

It is clear that Apple employs substantial market research as they have successfully leveraged their position to innovate and move horizontally into the personal music player and smart phone markets.  Apple introduced the iPod and iTunes in 2000 and 2001 respectively and many authors state Apple changed the face of the music industry.  In 2004, 4 years after its introduction, the IPod had garnered 92% of the market share worldwide (Becker, 2004).  Interestingly, the iPod launch coincides with Apple’s rapid pc market share growth and warrants further research into their branding however, this is beyond the scope of this paper.

Recently Apple has successfully moved horizontally into the smart phone markets. The Apple iPhone, launched in 2007, has quickly garnered the number three market share worldwide even without full deployment worldwide and the iPhone has quickly garnered the number two market share in the US (Oliver, 2008).  Apple continues its iPhone expansion into new geographical markets such as Japan (Gonsalves, 2008b) and new business markets with the pending introduction of increased application functionality (Gonsalves, 2008c; Wagner, 2008).

Apple Computer’s Relationship Marketing

Apple Computer has been very successful with their customer relationship management (CRM) and partner relationship management (RPM).  Having purchased several Apple Power PCs for inclusion in the Merrimack College Computer Science program and several MacBook Pro notebooks for my Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) Computing and Information Sciences (CIS) department, I can provide a firsthand account of their stellar customer service.  This includes upgrading orders to the latest technology without additional charge to the customer when new products launch prior to their shipment to customers.

Apple maintains their relationship with customers through non-intrusive opt-out email and their MobileMe (formerly .Mac) communities.  Apple’s opt-out emails provide the user with a clear and quickly locatable link within the email to opt out of their emails that demonstrates a high level of ethical concern for their consumer’s privacy.  Additionally, Apple provides free, virtual (i.e. Internet based) storage space and application functionality to its customers.  This creates a mutually beneficial relationship by maintaining communications with their customers and providing Apple customers with the functionality normally reserved for high-end business users and organizations that deploy the expensive Microsoft Exchange (Perez, 2008).

Anecdotally, Since 2001 I have been lecturing to my students that I believe the future of computing lies in ultra-mobile devices using docking stations with full sized keyboards and monitors when necessary with Internet based server space and application delivery.  It is well known that centralized administration is more cost efficient, secure and more easily managed.  Interestingly, Apple has the necessary infrastructure and relationships in place through their MobileMe (formerly .Mac) community to effect this architecture.  It must be noted that MobileMe provides individual users with far greater functionality than Microsoft Exchange and it is reasonable to assume that Apple will not be complacent to sit on its laurels. Recently, I have observed increased support for my perspective of ultra mobile and cloud based computing however many authors believe it is further in the future than I predict (Hilton, 2008).

Apple has also been very successful with their PRM.  Shortly after introducing the IPod music player, Apple introduced the ITunes service in 2001.  Apple was able to provide the music industry with a secure music codec (i.e. coder – decoder) and the assurance that the format was resilient to illegal duplication and distribution.  I believe they were able to accomplish this largely due to their solid reputation in computer security.  The launch of ITunes also benefitted their CRM as consumers became attached to the ITunes service thereby enhancing their continuance commitment. Presently, over 50,000 songs are rented or purchased daily from Apple’s iTunes store, which is clear evidence of Apple’s continuing CRM (Gonsalves, 2008d).

Apple Computer’s Integrated Marketing

Apple computer has been rated AMR Research’s top company in their “Supply Chain Top 25” located at <http://www.amrresearch.com/supplychaintop25/> .  Apple has achieved a stellar reputation for robust systems by tightly controlling all hardware components throughout the supply chain followed by a tight coupling to their operating system and software.   Preston (2008) cites most companies suffer from a lack of supply chain management professionals however Apple has maintained this tightly controlled perspective from its inception thus we may infer that they have culled the industry’s best supply chain managers or have cultivated this expertise in house.  I suspect Apple computer’s tightly controlled supply chain using predetermined parts and known vendors minimizes the electronic procurement errors cited above (Hubspan Inc., 2008).

As cited above, Apple Computer has continued to launch innovative products free from defects and this demonstrates Apple’s considerable market research, planning and integration throughout the value chain.    Further evidence of this can be inferred from Apple’s move to the Intel platform and their provision for a dual-boot system with Microsoft Windows (Hoffman, 2006).  Apple determined that pc users were hesitant to move entirely to the Mac OS without a security net since it is well know that every system has a learning curve.  The provision for a dual-boot system removed the migration learning curve impediment that prevented long time users from buying and trying an Apple.  Anecdotally, while I miss the Mac second mouse button support and I have difficulty finding the functionality I need in the Mac OS, the MacBook Pro is the best and fastest Windows PC notebook I have ever used.

Apple Computer’s Internal Marketing

Apple Computer’s Internal Marketing was the most difficult to analyze citing the absence of employee interviews or access to their Human Resources hiring, training and retention criteria.  An analysis of Apple’s employment opportunities located at <http://www.apple.com/jobs/us/index.html> did not reveal common holistic marketing language however; it did reveal best practices OB and IS JAD language and I cite my previous assertion that there is a correlation between holistic marketing and best practices OB and IS JAD.  Throughout the Apple employment listings, I found an emphasis on communication and collaboration skills consistent with holistic marketing tenets.  Apple is also seeking creative and innovative individuals who possess an attention to detail.  I believe these attributes may be associated with “openness to experience” and “conscientious” as discussed in Robbins and Judge (2007).

Apple Computer’s Social Responsibility Marketing

Apple Computer participates in many cause-related marketing initiatives thereby improving their reputation and increasing brand awareness, customer loyalty, sales and public relations.  Apple Computer actively pursues ethically “green” initiatives offering to recycle College computers free of charge <www.apple.com/education/shop/recycle/promo/index.php?event_code_recycle=5539901>. Furthermore, they have published their recycling process and have ensured compliance with data disposition and security legislation (e.g. HIPPA) thereby reinforcing their reputation as a market leader in computer security and information assurance.

Apple has also created and now offers ITunes U to Colleges and Universities to house multimedia teaching resources free of charge.  This resource has shown strong growth and is expanding internationally (Nagel, 2008).  This is another example holistic marketing’s comprehensive approach integrating the four elements cited above as ITunes U also contributes to Apple’s relationship marketing and is a fertile area to pursue market research thereby supporting their integrated and internal marketing.

Conclusion

As cited above, it is impossible to discuss the four components of holistic marketing in isolation.  To complete the discussion from the opposite direction, consider the integration from the social marketing perspective.  As cited above, management begins with the hiring process (e.g. internal marketing) and is responsible for shaping an organization’s values and culture.  Effective communication is the foundation of holistic marketing therefore the relationship between social responsibility marketing and internal, integrated and relationship marketing is obvious and is additionally consistent with OB best practices (Jaworski & Kohli, 1993; Robbins & Judge, 2007).

In conclusion, I agree with Kotler and Keller (2007) and assert that holistic marketing and a comprehensive integrated approach is necessary to optimize performance and manage the increasing complexity of today’s Internet driven global marketplace.  The emergence of the Internet, while increasing the complexity of marketing also yields new opportunities and the Internet’s accessible digital basis provides marketing with better research and analytics which is the key to understanding and cultivating a life-long consumer base.

 

 

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