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The marketing organization’s journey to become data-driven

Devon S. Johnson (Department of Marketing, Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey, USA)
Laurent Muzellec (Department of Marketing, University of Dublin Trinity College – School of Business, Dublin, Ireland)
Debika Sihi (Department of Economics and Business, Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas, USA)
Debra Zahay (The Bill Munday School of Business, St. Edward’s University, Austin, Texas, USA)

Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing

ISSN: 2040-7122

Article publication date: 15 May 2019

Issue publication date: 6 June 2019




This paper aims to improve understanding of data-driven marketing by examining the experiences of managers implementing big data analytics in the marketing function. Through a series of research questions, this exploratory study seeks to define what big data analytics means in marketing practice. It also seeks to uncover the challenges and identifiable stages of big data analytics implementation.


A total of 15 open-ended in-depth interviews were conducted with marketing and analytics executives in a variety of industries in Ireland and the USA. Interview transcripts were subjected to open coding and axial coding to address the research questions.


The study reveals that managers consider marketing big data analytics to be a series of tools and capabilities used to inform product innovation and marketing strategy-making processes and to defend the brand against emerging risks. Additionally, the study reveals that big data analytics implementation is championed at different organizational levels using different types of dynamic learning capabilities, contingent on the champion’s stature within the organization.


From the qualitative analysis, it is proposed that marketing departments undergo five stages of big data analytics implementation: sprouting, recognition, commitment, culture shift and data-driven marketing. Each stage identifies the key characteristics and potential pitfalls to be avoided and provides advice to marketing managers on how to implement big data analytics.



Erratum: It has come to the attention of the publisher that the article, Debra Zahay, Debika Sihi, Laurent Muzellec, Devon S. Johnson, (2019) “The Marketing Organization’s Journey to Become Data-Driven”, Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, published the authors in the wrong order.

These errors were introduced during the editorial process and have now been corrected in the online version. The publisher sincerely apologises for this error and for any inconvenience caused. When citing the article, the citation should be given as Devon S. Johnson, Laurent Muzellec, Debika Sihi, Debra Zahay, (2019) “The Marketing Organization’s Journey to Become Data-Driven”, Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing,


Johnson, D.S., Muzellec, L., Sihi, D. and Zahay, D. (2019), "The marketing organization’s journey to become data-driven", Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 162-178.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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