Professor John M. McCann
Fuqua School of Business
Duke University

Marketing and sales managers have used computers to gain access to their data for decades. As the underlying computer technology and form has changed over time, marketing and sales systems have evolved. The early systems ran on large mainframe computers and produced standard printouts of marketing data. Marketing and sales managers received stacks of computer paper that contained rows and columns of numbers. The format of these reports was relatively constant; only the numbers changed from month to month.

Along came time-shared computers and the concept of Management Information Systems, and marketing and sales systems became interactive in the sense that a manager could interact with the computer to specify the reports that s/he received. Although the result was still rows and columns of numbers, the manager was able to have a certain amount of control over what numbers s/he received and in what format.

The next significant evolution of computer platforms was the personal computer. Its initial impact was to allow the system to 1) become more graphic due to the processing power of a personal computer hooked to a mainframe and 2) import the numbers from the mainframe system into personal productivity tools such as spreadsheets, word processors, and graphics packages. But during this phase of the evolution, the systems did not change their underlying purpose: production of rows and columns of numbers.

Such numerical production becomes problematic as the number of numbers in the mainframe database becomes large. Thus marketing and sales systems must continue to evolve so that marketing and sales managers can gain insights from the ever-increasing databases. This part of the hyperbook describes this evolution of marketing and sales systems, along with the research center that has played a role in this evolution..

Specific Topics

The Marketing Workbench Laboratory
The Genesis of Insight Generation
The Evolution of Marketing Systems