Continuing with the posts about the Marketing Environment, remember that these are the man-made elements that are external to the individual organization that have an impact on how marketing is done. The five sub-environments - the competitive environment, the economic environment, the technological environment, the social/cultural environment, and the political/legal environment - are also known as the partially-controllable variables. This is the case because an organization is able to influence these variables in some ways, but do not have direct control over them.
The Technological Environment is increasingly more important. Just 20 years ago, if a company was not a high-tech company, the technological environment may have had little impact on it. On the other hand, Companies such as Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Intel, etc., have always been heavily influenced by this environment, and in turn, have often been able to exert substantial influence back on the environment. However, if a company was low-tech, this environment had minimal impact. Nowadays, however, the technological environment should be important to every company. For example, a business as simple and seemingly low-tech as a pawn shop is now doing more business online than it is in it physical stores. In fact, most retailers, especially the national and international ones, not only have a brick-and-mortar (physical store) option, where customers physically go to the stores to buy products, but they also have a click option where customers can order online and never have to leave the comforts of their own homes. In fact, many large retailers actually offer more products online than they do in their physical stores. For example, did you know you can buy caskets from Wal-Mart? You can online. These combination retail operations are known as click-and-mortar operations. This trend toward online retaling began with purely online companies, such as eBay, Amazon.com, SierraTradingPost.com, etc. But it has rapidly expanded and become such an integral part of most retail operations that without it, the chances of not being able to compete are exponentially multiplied.
Beyond the retail-level applications of technology, this environment is also becoming more and more important. Where salespeople once had to spend hours in the evenings writing reports, etc., they now are eqipped with hand-held computers to enter information on accounts and orders immediately following an appointment with a customer. Where once advertising agencies were desperately seeking artists who could draw and paint, they are now seeking digital graphics professionals. Where once pricing decisions might be as simple as looking at what your local competitors are doing with their prices, now much wider national and international research can be performed very quickly via the Internet, and software is available to help develop pricing strategies. Where once marketing research data was laboriously kept by hand and analysis of the data was so tedious that it was often neglected, now software programs exist to allow constant evaluation of current data for use in marketing research.
Another important piece, and the most recent development, is the venturing of companies into social media. The social media sites are ecstatic about it because they can make tons of money from these businesses. The businesses themselves are benefitting greatly from using social media in their marketing plans. Many are now hiring social media marketing experts to be sure they keep up to speed with the constantly shifting Technological Environment.
Yes, the age of technology is here and has become relevant for all organizations and in every function in marketing (4Ps). For companies who are slow to react or adapt to new technological trends, the admonition is to beware because failure is just around the corner.