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“Hacking marketing”: how do firms develop marketers' expertise and practices in a digital era?

Najmeh Hafezieh (School of Business and Management, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, UK)
Neil Pollock (Business School, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK)
Annmarie Ryan (Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland)

Journal of Enterprise Information Management

ISSN: 1741-0398

Article publication date: 2 February 2023

Issue publication date: 7 March 2023




Digital technologies, digitalised consumers and the torrent of customer data have been transforming marketing practice. In discussing such trends, existing research has either focussed on the skills marketers need or broad-based approaches such as agile methods but has given less consideration to just how such skills or approaches might be developed and used in marketers' day-to-day activities and in the organisation of marketing in the firm. This is what the authors address in this paper.


This paper adopts an in-depth case study approach to examine an exemplary digital enterprise in transformation of their digital marketing. The insights were gathered from 25 interviews, netnography and document analysis of the case organisation in addition to 10 interviews with independent experts.


Drawing on practice-oriented approach, the authors show how organisations respond to the emerging trends of digital consumers and big data by taking a ‘hacking marketing’ approach and developing novel marketing expertise at disciplinary boundaries. The authors put forward three sets of practices that enable and shape the hacking marketing approach. These include spanning the expertise boundary, making value measurable and experimenting through which their adaptive, iterative and multidisciplinary work occurs. This explains how managing digital consumers and big data is not within the realm of information technology (IT) functions but marketing and how marketing professionals are changing their practice and moving their disciplinary boundaries.

Practical implications

This study offers practical contributions for firms in terms of identifying new work practices and expertise that marketing specialists need in managing digital platforms, digitalised consumers and big data. This study’s results show that enterprises need to design and implement strong training programmes to prepare their marketing workforce in adopting experimentations of agile approach and data-driven decision making. In addition, Marketing education should be changed so that programmes consider a review of their courses and include the novel marketing models and approaches into their curriculum.


This study contributes to the nascent discussions by unpacking how enterprises can develop new marketing expertise and practices beyond skillsets and how such practices form new hacking marketing approach which addresses the problem of the inability of the conventional marketing approach to show its value within the firm.



The authors would like to thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers whose constructive comments were substantial in improving this paper. The authors would like to acknowledge that an earlier version of this paper was presented at the International Conference on Information Systems 2018.


Hafezieh, N., Pollock, N. and Ryan, A. (2023), "“Hacking marketing”: how do firms develop marketers' expertise and practices in a digital era?", Journal of Enterprise Information Management, Vol. 36 No. 2, pp. 655-679.



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