The Impact of the Alignment Between Information Systems and Marketing on Business Performance
The purpose of this research was to determine the impact of the strategic alignment between information systems (IS) and marketing on business performance. The work of Chan (1992) was used as a point of departure. She had explored the fit between IS and business strategies and had used strategic orientation as a basis for determining the fit (alignment). Although the marketing literature did not reveal any measure for alignment, measures existed for market orientation. This appeared to be the approximate marketing equivalent of strategic orientation. Given the strategic nature of market orientation, it was decided to use it in addition to strategic orientation in order to calculate alignment. It was also decided to use marketing performance as an intermediary dependent variable. A conceptual model was devised which could be applied to the assessment of alignment according to either strategic orientation or market orientation. It consisted of three constructs: alignment, marketing performance and business performance. Implicit in this model was the calculation of alignment based either on strategic orientation or on market orientation. Two versions of the model would thus be tested. A mixed methods approach was adopted for the research. First, a qualitative phase of interviews with 36 respondents (the heads of information technology (IT)/IS and the heads of marketing of 18 companies) was conducted. The purpose was to obtain a deeper understanding of perceptions of alignment between IS and marketing, and to ascertain the different measures used for marketing performance and business performance. The findings served to refine the conceptual model and inform the second phase survey. The second phase was quantitative and consisted of a mail survey of heads of IT and heads of marketing of large New Zealand companies. In total 415 responses were received, 350 of them being pairs from 175 companies. Pairs of responses were a requirement for the calculation of alignment. A new formula was developed for the calculation. This was used to calculate alignment according to both strategic orientation and market orientation. The data collected in the second phase were used to test the model, using both factor analysis and structural equation modelling. Statistically significant evidence was provided that indicated that the alignment between IS and marketing exerts a positive impact on both business performance and marketing performance, and that marketing performance exerts a positive impact on business performance. This is so, irrespective of whether alignment is calculated according to strategic orientation or market orientation. The value of the research lies in the development of a parsimonious model which measures the alignment between IS and marketing and the impact of that on business performance. It also lies in the development of a robust formula for the calculation of alignment. It further demonstrates the value of a cross-disciplinary approach which could have significant implications for both academic research and for practitioners. The potential impact on companies consists of the breaking down of the silo mentality; an emphasis on cross-functional teamwork, cross-functional training and job rotation; and an impact on organizational structure and culture.