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Information technology and marketing: an important partnership for decades

Jan Philipp Graesch (Department of Design, Production and Management, Universiteit Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands) (HSBA, Hamburg, Germany)
Susanne Hensel-Börner (HSBA, Hamburg, Germany)
Jörg Henseler (Department of Design, Production and Management, Universiteit Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands) (Nova Information Management School (NOVA IMS), Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Article publication date: 13 November 2020

Issue publication date: 4 February 2021




The enabling technologies that emerged from information technology (IT) have had a considerable influence upon the development of marketing tools, and marketing has become digitalized by adopting these technologies over time. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the impacts of these enabling technologies on marketing tools in the past and present and to demonstrate their potential future. Furthermore, it provides guidance about the digital transformation occurring in marketing and the need to align of marketing and IT.


This study demonstrates the impact of enabling technologies on the subsequent marketing tools developed through a content analysis of information systems and marketing conference proceedings. It offers a fresh look at marketing's digital transformation over the last 40 years. Moreover, it initially applies the findings to a general digital transformation model from another field to verify its presence in marketing.


This paper identifies four eras within the digital marketing evolution and reveals insights into a potential fifth era. This chronological structure verifies the impact of IT on marketing tools and accordingly the digital transformation within marketing. IT has made digital marketing tools possible in all four digital transformation levers: automation, customer interaction, connectivity and data.

Practical implications

The sequencing of enabling technologies and subsequent marketing tools demonstrates the need to align marketing and IT to design new marketing tools that can be applied to customer interactions and be used to foster marketing control.


This study is the first to apply the digital transformation levers, namely, automation, customer interaction, connectivity and data, to the marketing discipline and contribute new insights by demonstrating the chronological development of digital transformation in marketing.



Graesch, J.P., Hensel-Börner, S. and Henseler, J. (2021), "Information technology and marketing: an important partnership for decades", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 121 No. 1, pp. 123-157.



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