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Technology | Expert Opinion

Short Circuit

Businesses Like Technology To Reach Audiences Quickly And Nimbly. What Could Go Wrong?

By Utpal Dholakia

Businesses Like Technology To Reach Audiences Quickly And Nimbly. What Could Go Wrong?

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.

I just finished writing a paper called, "All's Not Well on the Marketing Frontlines: Grasping the Challenges of Adverse Technology–Consumer Interactions."

There are far too many technology-driven phenomena that are gathering like storm clouds on the horizon that mainstream marketers are not paying sufficient attention to. There are many examples of this, whether it is the rise of technology-enabled retail fraud by consumers, consumers’ resistance to using self-service technologies and cashless payment methods, the insidious effects of fraudulent negative reviews and social media flare-ups by customers on businesses, the negative effects of consumers' low attention spans and distraction because of smartphone use, survey taking by professional respondents, and the list goes on and on. So I wanted to write about this issue.

Here's the paper's abstract.

The prevailing marketing worldview is one of technology optimism, which holds that consumers and marketers are influenced by technological advances in positive ways. In contrast, the central thesis advanced in this paper is that at the organizational frontlines where marketers inform, persuade, observe, and co-create products and services with customers, technology commonly produces unforeseen and unexpected effects on customers with significant negative implications for marketers, the so-called “Adverse Technology-Consumer Interactions” or ATCIs. Marketers play an instrumental role in producing or exacerbating an ATCI, yet have few incentives to fully investigate the underlying reasons, understand its scope, or find solutions. Academic researchers, on the other hand, are uniquely poised to identify ATCIs, investigate them in-depth by considering their industry-wide import, develop appropriate theoretical frameworks, and design and test solutions to alleviate their effects. These ideas are developed through the detailed consideration of two ATCIs, falling response rates to customer surveys, and customer reactance to frequent price changes. Promising research opportunities are highlighted in each case.

The entire paper is available here.

It's very much work in progress, so I would love to hear thoughts and criticisms.

Utpal Dholakia.

Utpal Dholakia is the George R. Brown Professor of Marketing at Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University.

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