Need for an MkIS - Marketing Management

Marketers must increasingly consider building long-term relationships with their customers, especially those who operate in lean manufacturing environments . Lead times are shorter and emphasis is now placed on quality and supplier reliability and less on price. Lancaster8 contends that these trends have affected all aspects of marketing. Normally dominated by the idea of the unique selling proposition, corporate marketing is now being forced to practice the small business philosophy of staying close to customers, understanding and meeting their needs and treating them well after the sale. Through having an MkIS it is possible to apply these principles in practice.

Tesco is a company that uses an effective marketing information system to get close to customers and their needs. Using their extensive database on customers, based primarily on their loyalty card scheme, Tesco are able to identify key customer groups to target special promotional offers, send direct mail shots and evaluate in-store campaigns. Often the integration of computer processes with decision making can be complex. Galliers and Sutherland9 suggest possible reasons for this:

  1. Much of the information that is gathered and communicated by individuals and organizationshas little decision relevance.
  2. Much of the information that is used to justify a decision is collected and interpreted after the decision has been made, or substantially made.
  3. Much of the information gathered in response to requests for information is not considered in the making of decisions for which it was requested.
  4. Regardless of the information available at the time a decision is first considered, more information is requested.
  5. Complaints that an organization does not have enough information to make a decision occur while available information is ignored.
  6. The relevance of the information provided in the decision-making process to the decision being made is less conspicuous than is the insistence on information.

In short, organizations and individuals collect more information than they can reasonably expect to use in the making of decisions. At the same time, they seem to be constantly needing or requesting more information, or complaining about inadequate information.

The authors conclude that organizations are systematically inept, or have severe limitations in understanding the nature of information and decision making. A situation exists where turbulent environments are increasing the need for information on the changes taking place. Yet, information technology does not always make the contribution it could to provide this information in a form suitable for decision makers. Technical problems of designing and implementing an MkIS are many, but it is problems faced by the user of the system that are of most importance to marketing management. These problems can be summarized under the headings of misinformation; lack of user orientation; the nature of management decision making; the user–system interface and organizational problems.

A final set of problems relates to difficulties of integrating the system into the organization. Often, systems are designed which fail in their implementation, not due to failures of the system, but because of the designer’s ignorance of how it will be used. This can be a problem with systems where marketing decisions affect other parts of the organization. After all, marketing decisions relate to customers, and customers are the starting point of all business planning in a marketing orientated organization. This ‘boundary spanning’ role is an essential aspect of an integrated marketing approach, but is often resistedby departments who guard their own power in the form of information they control. Clearly, management support at board level is necessary to overcome such problems. Overcoming these problems, especially the problem of too much information from the system, needs careful system design.

A well designed information and decision support system should:

  • Be based on a careful appraisal and analysis of the decision making requirements of marketing management. This involves establishing what types of marketing decisions are made, what sorts of information are required for these decisions and how this information is to be supplied.

Clearly, this involves consulting end users of the system before it is designed and implemented.

  • Be designed to be ‘user-friendly’. Information is wasted if it cannot be used. A problem in the provision of information to marketing is that often the system is designed to suit the information specialist rather than the decision maker.
  • Be designed to be ‘interactive’ and allow analysis rather than simply be a system for retrieval of information.
  • Be cost effective. Information costs money, so an effective system of marketing information supply should be based on a careful evaluation of how the system will contribute to more costeffective marketing decisions.

It is by paying attention to these key areas of the design of the marketing information system that potential problems of having information overload or the system being too costly can be minimized.

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