Digital transformation of customer interactions - Aligning marketing, sales and IT
Jan Philipp Graesch is a PhD student in the department Design Engineering. Promotors are prof.dr.ir. J. Henseler from the faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences and prof.dr. S. Hensel-Börner from HSBA Hamburg.
This dissertation explores the impact of Digital Transformation on Marketing and Sales. The Digital Transformation is influencing customer behavior across the board by creating new sales channels, opportunities for product evaluation and customer communication. At the same time, more and more digital products are being added to existing products, even by conservative companies. At the same time, the professional demands on Marketing and Sales are also increasing, as the purchase transaction is no longer perceived as a one-time point in time, but as an end-to-end process with the purpose of helping customers succeed with customized products or services. In addition, studies are known from the literature that have analyzed the battle between Marketing and Sales over the years. These analyses form the knowledge base on which this study builds and now adds IT as a third actor.
This Thesis first shows that Marketing is dependent on IT developments, as new marketing measures emerge, some of which were not designed for Marketing at all (e.g. social media), and results in the fact that Marketing and Sales have to coordinate in order to better design the customer interaction. At the same time, there is surprisingly little research that addresses the interface between Marketing Sales and IT (M-S-I).
A case study of four business units of a large corporation operating in different customer segments worldwide first explores the responsibilities of the three M-S-I actors. The research design places particular emphasis on the fact that the interviewees within each of these subsidiaries are represented by a marketing manager, a sales manager, and an IT manager. This process of a matched triad or group of three ensures, first, that the statements fit together and that confounding variables such as culture, leadership style, etc. are eliminated. Existing research often analyzes only one dyad, and by not matching interviewees, single-informant biases arise, which this study overcomes.
The first finding is that all three actors have responsibilities within the customer interaction and are therefore part of the customer interaction. A listing of the customer contact points along the Customer Journey enables a statement to be made about the relative responsibility of the M-S-I actors per Customer Journey stage. It also shows that IT is split into two functions, IT(production) and IT(enabler); for this subdivision, the responsibilities can also be shown. Since all actors have responsibilities, this study goes one step further and analyzes to what extent the actors are aligned with each other. For this purpose, a model is developed that targets the previously defined concept of "alignment". This model, called the COMPLY framework, can be used to design, analyze, or adjust the alignment of M-S-I actors with respect to customer interaction. It is based on existing models in the literature and has been abductively developed based on the case study, adding new attributes such as digitalization.
Thus, this dissertation makes contributions to theory, as the field or the interface between M-S-I has hardly been studied so far. It makes new contributions to the inter-organizational design of operational processes, also through the research design, which has not been applied in this way before and has its strengths especially with regard to the consideration of all perspectives of all actors. Furthermore, this Thesis is an interdisciplinary work, which builds bridges for common approaches for both sides, Marketing and information systems. This Thesis is quite practiceoriented and the COMPLY framework as a central result empowers especially managers to be able to shape the orientation of their interdisciplinary staff. The model contains 20 attributes and six dimensions of common alignment, which can be designed intradimensionally as well as interdimensionally. Concrete suggestions of the design are: First, establish shared top management among the departments to be aligned, enabling joint interaction and eliminating conflicting goals. Second, to implement a shared digital program, with which customer interaction is managed, is transparent and helps all involved to simplify the work. Third, to create flexible teams that bring different skills and knowledge and network with each other.
Finally, the research question, "HOW CAN MARKETING AND SALES IMPROVE CUSTOMER INTERACTION DURING THE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IN B2B?" is answered by the fact that these actors need to coordinate with IT actors and there needs to be a common alignment.