Marketing Information Systems and Sales Performance in Saudi Arabia

Abstract

A marketing information system is a compilation of measures and techniques for customary scheduling, compilation, examinations, and presentation of data for use in coming up with marketing choices (Brdesee & Corbitt, 2013). As such, the research report below focuses on the effect of marketing information systems on sales performance in Saudi Arabia. It investigates the different aspects of the marketing information systems.

To achieve this, the research analyses people’s behaviours, technology, and the processes that scan and gather data from the operations within the corporations and from the field. With the help of the MIS, the decision-makers can develop specific marketing strategies to achieve the company’s aims and objectives. To verify whether there is any relationship between sales performance and marketing information systems, a survey was conducted in two Saudi Arabian companies. A secondary search was also undertaken on the internet. The result of the survey and the studies proved that marketing information has an impact on sales performance.

Introduction

Background

With increasing revenues from oil industries, computer usage, and internet connectivity in Saudi Arabia has significantly increased (Brdesee & Corbitt, 2013). Expansion of computer technologies in Saudi Arabia has currently changed the style of product selling and management these days. Saudi Arabian marketing managers believe that the marketing information system has high potential to cater to the needs of salespeople in eliciting sales and meeting customer satisfaction.

Marketing information system fulfils the customer’s needs while meeting the aims and objectives of an organisation. The strategy involved relates to design, specification, sales promotion, pricing policy, sale outlets, service, and a hoard of other elements. As such, it is a management science applied to the marketing of a product through decision-making and implementation. Through this, a company’s product information can reach to the customers or end-users enhancing profits and customer satisfaction. With increased effects of globalisation, Saudi Arabian firms should note that competition in the field of marketing is very high and that sales performance will not improve without the support of an effective marketing information system.

According to Shalaby (2004), firms are now under pressure to have an interactive communication system that can enable them to communicate with their customers. The changing market trends can only be understood if a firm has a proper interactive communication system with its customers. The customers will be able to explain their changing tastes and preferences so that a firm can understand how to adjust its products. This will help in improving sales.

The interactive system also enables a firm to interact with suppliers and other business partners. Through this close communication system, a firm will be able to improve its supply chain. In such contexts, customers will be offered superior value by the firm. In this paper, the researcher will focus on determining the effect of the marketing information system on sales performance in Saudi Arabia.

The system components

The marketing information system makes use of people’s data, technology, and the processes to scan and gather data from the operations within the company and from the field (Brdesee & Corbitt, 2013). The system will filter the data. After making a proper selection, the same will be reorganised as information to be presented to the management and other decision-makers of the company. A marketing information system has four main components.

In the four components, the internal records furnish information regarding performed sales, stocks, and financial accomplishments. On the other hand, the section relating to marketing intelligence gives outside information about the market setting. The details of the sources connected with the marketing information are papers written on business topics, dailies, other periodicals, and trade journals.

Marketing managers interact with consumers, partners, and suppliers. The market research addresses the problems recorded in marketing and the ways of solving such problems. The decision support mechanisms for marketing consist of certain tools that are capable of digging out value for the given data. Such tools are categorised as computer software, computer hardware, and computer peripherals.

The idea of marketing information systems was introduced to Saudi Arabia several years ago (Brdesee & Corbitt, 2013). Previously, the systems were functioning on paper. However, the emergence of computers transformed its operations. Computer displays and other electronic devices replaced the papers. In addition, the system introduced new features that were not capable on paper. The effect of an information system is that it can enhance the performance of a salesperson.

When sales performance depends on factors such as the size of the potential market, technical knowledge of the salesperson, and skills in achieving targets, presentation, and prospect calls, marketing information will come in handy. In Saudi Arabia, marketing staffs are responsible for promoting sales in their organisations. Therefore, they must have the required information to find prospects in the selling process. The best measure to know the compatibility of a marketing information system in Saudi Arabia is to measure its effect on the performance of the salesperson. The present advanced technology-based MIS in the country proves that it has a very positive impact on sales performance.

With a finger touch, today’s marketers and decision-makers delve into large databases such as social networks, business profiles, retail market resources, trade preferences, and customer trends. Through this, they have access to useful information that can boost their sales proceeds. Marketing information systems have developed to such an extent and now are the days of “big data,” which demands the intervention of innovative tools and talents to provide value to the marketing system.

Justification for the research

All people need information for several reasons and in different ways. The managers of a company need the information to foretell the deviations in the matter of product demand of the customers and the subsequent sales boom. It is also required for controlling sales as well as distribution expenses. Since marketing is a continuous process, decisions are to be made at every stage of the product supply, and the outcome monitored throughout.

Field reactions of consumers and competitors to the decision of the company have to be analysed to reassure about the applied strategy, and if any modification or deviation is required, the same needs to be done promptly. For streamlining all these procedural elements, a reliable and accurate information system is vital for the organisation. Moreover, a marketing information system performs the task of finding solutions to the problems faced by the management.

A few researchers have been done on the effects of marketing information system on the sales performance in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, the few researchers are based on similar researchers done in the western world. Therefore, the topic was worth being researched. By studying it, the research could reveal how firms could utilise the ever-expanding marketing information system. Equally, through the study, it could be known about how the public perceives the system. For instance, the study could reveal if a marketing information system infringes on Saudi Arabians privacy rights or cultures. The findings obtained from this research may be used in tackling the challenges that hinder the effective implementation of marketing information in Saudi Arabia.

Research questions

According to Wilson and Graham (2013), when conducting research, it is important to develop research questions that will help in the data collection process. Research questions will enable the researcher to identify data that is specifically relevant to the study. These questions will not only offer guidance in the process of collecting primary data but also on the collection of secondary data from relevant books, journal articles, and other reliable online sources. The following are the primary research questions that will guide the data collection process.

  1. What are the effects of a marketing information system on sales performance in Saudi Arabia?
  2. What are the major hindrances affecting the implementation of a marketing information system in Saudi Arabia?

Hypothesis

Just like any other research process, this research contains research and null hypotheses. Research hypothesis presumes that a relation the marketing information and sales performance in Saudi Arabia exist. The following are the hypotheses that the researcher seeks to ascertain through analysis of primary data.

  • H1o. There is no relationship between the marketing information and sales performance in Saudi Arabia.

The above null hypothesis should be rejected through analysis of primary data in order to confirm the claim that information system has an impact on the sales performance in Saudi Arabia. A rejection of the above hypothesis would mean that the alternative hypothesis below will be accepted.

  • H1a. There is a relationship between marketing information and sales performance in Saudi Arabia.

To ascertain on the hypotheses, the research carried out numerous investigations in the Saudi Arabian market. On looking at the several factors that influence the sale outcomes of an organisation, it is assumed that marketing information systems will have an effect on the sales performance, directly or indirectly.

Literature Review

A number of literature reviews have been documented on the effect of a marketing information system on sales performance in Saudi Arabia. In this literature review, four pieces of literature have been identified. One of the works of literature focuses on the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia (Brdesee & Corbitt, 2013). The authors assert that millions of tourists travel to the region every year. In the literature, the researchers investigated the effects of adopting marketing information systems to the number of external pilgrims arriving in the country. In the study, inspiration and confrontations of using the marketing information system are highlighted (Brdesee & Corbitt, 2013).

The result indicated that although the government and competitive markets were in the forefront championing for the use of the system to increase the number of sales in the tourism industry, a number of challenges were preventing the industry from utilising the benefits of the system. The challenges comprised of exterior factors, such as inadequate support by the IT industry and access to IT resources (Brdesee & Corbitt, 2013). Similarly, some internal factors, such as an inadequate commitment by the industry’s IT experts, contributed to the challenges. In their conclusion, the authors note that the number of sales in the Saudi Arabia tourist industry can be increased if the above challenges are tackled so that the firms can fully utilise the available marketing information system (Brdesee & Corbitt, 2013).

Another literature focusing on the topic asserts that a number of Saudi Arabia’s youths are embracing e-commerce (The Oxford Business Group, 2008). Through this, the literature urges the marketing information system experts to exploit the e-commerce platform to increase their sales. The literature indicates that with increasing revenues from oil industries, internet connectivity in Saudi Arabia has significantly increased (The Oxford Business Group, 2008).

As a result, an ideal environment has been created for commerce to thrive. The literature illustrated that there are major commercial opportunities in the country that both global and regional players should seize (The Oxford Business Group, 2008). Similarly, the authors illustrate how markets can exploit growth. In the future, e-commerce in Saudi Arabia is expected to challenge the conventional means of shopping. In this regard, the author urges marketers to come up with ingenious methods through which they can increase the sales of their firms by exploiting on the technology (The Oxford Business Group, 2008).

Other researchers have made a huge contribution to the marketing information system in Saudi Arabia. One research done by Alotaibi studies the existence and significance of the detailed issues that are perceived to foretell the growth of customer trust in online shopping in Saudi Arabia (Alotaibi, 2013). An examination was carried out with the help of existing authenticated measurement tools that focused on several major constructs categorised in the writings as probable trust predictors. The outcomes offered confirmed clients in Saudi Arabia trust in online shopping due to some specific factors. One of these factors recounts to the clients’ third-party recognition.

Another factor is associated with the legal framework. The research was based on a study done in Europe by Regina Connolly and Frank Bannister because no other similar research had been conducted in the region (Alotaibi, 2013). In their findings, the researchers confirmed that the marketing information system could be utilised appropriately to increase sales. The research outcomes are valuable to online marketers who want to venture in to Saudi Arabian markets (Alotaibi, 2013).

Methodology

In this research, independent variables are of measures and techniques for customary scheduling, compilation, examinations, and presentation of data for use in coming up with marketing choices. On the other hand, the dependent variables are the sales performance affected by the marketing choices stipulated.

To measure the effects of the marketing information system on sales, the success of its facets should be evaluated. Equally, the sales performance can be evaluated by looking at the sales records of the firms selected for the research. When information is required from human subjects, questionnaires and surveys are employed. In the questionnaire, the citizens and the marketers were asked to detail their perceptions about marketing information systems put in place. On the other part of the questionnaire, several questions measured on a five-point Linker scale were included. Linker scale is a variable measuring tool with strongly agree, agree, undecided, disagree, and strongly disagree options. The scale is very effective because it indicated the extent to which the public perceive marketing information systems put in place.

To measure sales performance, the researchers collected data from a number of corporations. The data indicated the current and past sale statistics. The scale of measurement was an ordinal scale. Reviewing sales records from the time the system was not in place at the time the system was in operation enabled the researchers to gauge the success of the system

Data collection methods

For this study, most of the data were collected through field research. The method entailed acquiring data from secure and reliable corporations, face-to-face interviews, and questionnaires. Corporations provided the researchers with crucial information such as the present and the past sale reports. The above sources were very efficient since they were bias-free. The face-to-face interview required researchers to question the participants in person to collect their personal views.

During the interview, the contributors were asked to detail their perspectives. The questions used during the interviews were open-ended. Equally, questionnaires were appropriate for collecting private information from the participants.

As such, two companies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia were visited to collect relevant data from the sample population. Two questionnaires were issued to this population consisting of 50 salespersons and 5 managers. The questions were open-ended so that the answers will bring unambiguous results. The first questionnaire contained five questions. The second questionnaire had eight questions. This sampling technique was relevant to the study because the samples of the population were judged based on a typical representation of the population. The first questionnaire was designed to collect the data regarding the impressions of Saudi Arabia’s salespersons on the marketing information systems.

The second questionnaire was prepared to find out the Manager’s observation about the MIS system, the sales performance of the marketers, and attainment of the objectives of the company due to the MIS used. The questions were formulated put in such a way that the managers needed to mark only ticks to express their appreciations or observations in the respective columns. The use of questionnaires was suitable for this study as the sample population was large in number, and answers to the questions would bring obvious results. In addition, secondary researches were also conducted on related studies with the help of internet databases and online contents. Two study samples were selected from this random search, and their methods of study and the findings were analysed.

When the interviews were being carried out, participants’ privacy was upheld to ensure that the research did not harm them. Before we commenced our research, we acknowledged that the major issues that we were to encounter were going to be related to participants’ privacy. In this regard, before the data collection process was undertaken in our research, permission for the study was requested from the organisation and the Institute of Research Board.

Equally, the research followed the directives of the established code of ethics. As such, the research caused no harm to the participants, safeguarded the participants’ privacy, and was voluntary. During the research, participants were informed of what was required of them before the start of the project, the length of the project, the benefits accrued from the project, the possible risk associated with the research, and who to consult.

Secondary data also played an important role in this study. According to Wilson and Graham (2013), a piece of research is meant to improve knowledge in a given field. Duplicating information that already exists cannot add any substantial knowledge in any field of study. That is why a review of the existing literature is very critical when conducting a research project. It helps the researcher to understand what other scholars have found out in a given area of research. This way, it becomes easy to know the existing gaps of knowledge and recommendation of the previous scholars on areas that need further research. In this research project, secondary sources of data from books, scholarly journals, and reliable online sources were used to establish a strong basis for this research.

Research design

A research design is a methodical plan to investigate a research problem. There are five types of research design that can be utilised in research. They are co-relational, field (survey), experimental, qualitative, and meta-analysis. For this type of research, field or survey research and qualitative research designs are going to be utilised. As such, field research encompasses of compilations of data outside the formal set up.

The means and processes used in the fieldwork differ across researches. For research, this information was obtained through face-to-face interviewing and questionnaires. The questions were directed at individuals in natural environments. Usually, fieldwork entails a variety of distinct or inconsistent methods. The methods included casual meetings, direct inspection, and group discussions. Even though the process usually is usually categorised as qualitative research, it should be noted that at times the method might comprise of quantitative dimensions.

The researchers also utilised a qualitative research design. Through this research design, the researchers collected comprehensive information relating to Saudi Arabians’ behaviours and perceptions in relation to the use of a marketing information system. Quantitative analysis method enabled the researchers to find out how far the MIS benefits the marketing department of the companies and the effect of MIS on the promotion of sales in Saudi Arabia. Similarly, the qualitative technique allowed the researchers to examine how Saudi Arabian sales persons utilise information from the marketing information systems.

Sampling methods

The study was conducted using systematic random sampling techniques. Systematic random sampling technique operates using the same approach as the conventional random sampling. As such, the p variables and confidence variables are evaluated using the same approach. Nevertheless, systematic random sampling excludes detached random selection of each sample. The technique was appropriate for the study because it enabled the researchers to choose a few samples from several firms in Saudi Arabia.

Fifty salespersons and five managers were selected using the criteria. A systematic sampling of five data points was used within the population whereby every second data point was observed. During the sampling process, certain steps were adhered to for accurate outcomes. The researchers evaluated the sampling interval, decided on a random start between unity and sampling interval, and continually summed up the sampling interval to choose subsequent samples.

Findings

In this section of the research, the primary sources of data will be used to help determine the effect of the marketing information system on sales performance. As explained in the methodology chapter above, primary data was collected from the participants selected to participate in this study from a number of firms. In order to find the effects of marketing information systems on sales performance in Saudi Arabia, the answers to the questionnaires and surveys were analysed.

The first step in the analysis of the primary data was to determine whether the alternative research hypothesis was approved or not. As explained in the methodology section, the study will majorly be based on qualitative research design. However, there are some facts that can only be proved through quantitative data. For this reason, the researcher will use quantitative data in some parts of this study. In order to determine if the set hypotheses are accepted or not, quantitative research design will be used.

The research hypotheses sought to determine the relationship between marketing information and sales performance in Saudi Arabia. It is important to note that this would justify the need to proceed with the study. In case the researcher established that there is no relationship between the two variables, then it would make little sense proceeding with this research. The researcher used relevant questions to find out from the participants if this relationship exists in the context of the Saudi Arabian market.

  • H1a. There is a relationship between marketing information and sales performance in Saudi Arabia.

The graph below shows the number of participants who thought that there is some form of relationship between marketing information and sales performance and those who had a contrary opinion.

Impact of MIS on Sales Performance.
Figure 1: Impact of MIS on Sales Performance.

From the data above, it is apparent that the majority of the respondents (90%) believe that there is a close relationship between the marketing information system and sales performance among firms in Saudi Arabia. In fact, 78 per cent of the total population stated that they strongly believe that this relationship is very close. One of the respondents stated that firms that have learnt how to use a marketing information system have become more competitive in the market.

They have a better knowledge of the changing tastes and preferences of their customers. Only 9 per cent of the participants had a contrary opinion. It is important to explain why these respondents had a contrary opinion because the researcher asked them to justify their answers. These respondents held a philosophical view of the issue of a marketing information system and its relationship with sales performance.

They argued that in Saudi Arabia, the larger part of the population is yet to understand the relevance of the information system. Many firms still have employees who are yet to understand how to use the information system to improve their performance. This makes a marketing information system irrelevant in improving sales performance in a firm. However, the most important thing is that the null hypothesis above has been rejected by the majority of the respondents. This means that the alternative hypothesis below was accepted.

  • H1o. There is no relationship between the marketing information and sales performance in Saudi Arabia.

Most respondents felt that there is a close relationship between a marketing information system and sales performance in Saudi Arabian firms. Most of these respondents stated that firms which have embraced emerging technology in managing marketing communication have been more successful than those that have avoided it. Because the answers the researchers received were all affirmative, it was found that the MIS has an effect on sales performance in Saudi Arabia just as it does in other countries where similar researches have been carried out. Likewise, answers given by the five managers engaged in the study confirmed that the MIS has an influence on sales performance and decision-making. At this stage, it is necessary to focus on how the respondents answered the research questions.

  • What are the effects of a marketing information system on sales performance in Saudi Arabia?

This research question focused on determining the effect of a marketing information system on the sales performance of firms in Saudi Arabia. From the data obtained from the respondents, the following are some of the effects of marketing information system on sales performance.

Improved communication between firms and their customers

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has embraced the open market system where government eliminates any bottlenecks to market entry among foreign firms. This means that multinational corporations have the liberty to enter and operate in this market when they realise that they have the financial capacity to do so. As Shalaby (2004) says, this has increased the level of competition in many industries within the country.

Managing expectations of customers is one of the best ways of coping with such stiff competition in the market. The respondents in this study stated that in order to become competitive, firms have to maintain an interactive communication system with their customers. In the past, when the market competition was very low, firms only had to present their products in the market. Customers had no choice but to buy what was available in the market. However, that is no longer the case in the current market, where customers have numerous choices to make whenever they are planning to purchase a given product.

Social marketing has become very relevant in the current Saudi Arabia market. This means that before coming up with a product, a firm will need to interact with its customers to determine what they need before coming up with a product that meets such needs. This can only happen when the marketing information system is used. This system makes it possible for the marketing research unit to interact with its customers through platforms such as social media and company websites.

The marketing research unit will then communicate the information to the production department with the aim of ensuring that products taken to the market meet the expectations of the customers. Shalaby (2004) says that superior products are more likely to attract higher sales compared to those that do not meet the expectations of the market.

The respondents also noted that marketing information system also facilitates superior product delivery processes in the market. The approach that sales representatives use to deliver a product to the target customers will determine the number of sales. For instance, the approach used in selling products to young adults should be different from that used for the elderly population. The elderly may need guidance, especially when purchasing a product that is relatively new in the market.

On the other hand, young adults value their privacy so much. This makes it necessary to create an environment where they can have self-service, especially when purchasing specific products. The sales representatives can only have this information if there is an integrated marketing information system. The system should allow the customers to explain to these firms how they want to be served.

When these firms follow the suggestions of their customers, the chances are high that they will make more sales than those that lack this information. Moreover, this system will enable a firm to render after-sale services in a better way because of the improved communication between a firm and its customers. A client can easily contact a sales representative and ask any relevant question about the product they have purchased. This will enhance their satisfaction with the product purchased from a particular firm. As Shalaby (2004) notes, satisfied customers are more likely to make a repeat purchase from a firm compared to customers who are not satisfied with a product offered.

Such customers are also more likely to act as evangelists who will recommend other customers to come and make their purchases from a particular firm. All these factors contribute to improved sales performance within a firm. When asked whether they believe that marketing information system improves communication between firms and their customers, the following graph shows their response.

Impact of MIS in Improving Communication between Firms and Clients.
Figure 2: Impact of MIS in Improving Communication between Firms and Clients.

It is clear from the figure above that an overwhelming majority felt that marketing information system improves communication between firms and their employees.

Improved communication between firms and their suppliers

According to Wilson and Graham (2013), improved communication between a firm and its suppliers plays an important role in improving sales performance. When a firm is capable of communicating effectively with its suppliers, it will always get the raw materials needed at the right time and in the right quantities.

Cases of delays, undersupply, and oversupplies will be completely eliminated. There will be an environment where a firm and its suppliers act as partners with a common vision of meeting the needs of the customers in the best way possible. That is why the researcher wanted to know the views of the respondents about the role of a marketing information system in enhancing communication between a firm and its suppliers. The following graph shows the response obtained from the respondents.

Impact of MIS in Improving Communication between Firms and Suppliers.
Figure 3: Impact of MIS in Improving Communication between Firms and Suppliers.

Over 97 per cent of the people interviewed in this study felt that marketing communication system plays a major role in improving communication between firms and their suppliers. One of the participants who are in the top management unit in one of the leading hotels in Riyadh stated that they have started using a new information system that links them with their customers and suppliers. Such systems ensure that when the hotel receives an order that is larger than the normal orders, the information is will automatically be transmitted to the relevant suppliers in real-time. Sometimes the information may be about a sudden decline of an originally made order. This means that the suppliers will know when it is appropriate to adjust their supplies to meet the changing demands of the customers.

Most of the raw materials used in this industry are highly perishable. If they are delivered at a time when they are not needed, they cannot be stored for a long time. This may lead to serious loss to a firm. The participant also noted that quality products could only be delivered to the clients when the raw materials are fresh from the farm. This system helps the management of this hotel to successfully apply Just-in-Time strategy in its supply chain management. Through the strategy, this hotel has managed to offer high-value products to its clients in the market. It has directly reflected in the sales performance of this hotel. The respondent stated that since introducing a marketing information system at this hotel, their sales have more than doubled over the past year. Currently, it is one of the popular hotels for local and international customers.

Improved coordination among employees

The information gathered from the review of relevant literature emphasised on the relevance of proper coordination among employees as a way of improving sales within a firm. Wilson and Graham (2013) warned against systems that do now allow employees in the related department to share important information that can enable them to serve customers in a better way. The researcher asked the respondents if they believe that marketing communication systems improve coordination among employees. The figure below shows their response to this question.

Impact of MIS on Employees’ Coordination.
Figure 4: Impact of MIS on Employees’ Coordination.

Most of the respondents believe that a marketing information system improves employees’ coordination. One of the respondents was a marketing manager at one of the leading electronic shops in the city of Riyadh. This respondent stated that employee coordination in the sales and marketing department is very critical. In many cases, a customer would visit the stores to have information about the products available in the market.

The customer may not make the purchase at that particular time but may make a promise to come back for a given product. The chances are high that at the time the customer will be coming back for the product, the sales representative he talked with about the product may be working on a different project. Such a customer may insist on proceeding with the transaction through the help of the original sales representative. In such cases, it becomes necessary for the sales representatives to coordinate among themselves and find a way of meeting the demands of such a unique customer in the best way possible.

In value chain management, Wilson and Graham (2013) say that all the stages of production and product delivery must embrace quality management. Employees working as sales representatives are constantly interacting with the customers in their daily activities. They get to understand the changing tastes and preferences of the customers in a given market. However, they have no capacity to change the nature of the products they deliver in the market.

They only deliver what the production department offers to them. On the other hand, designers and other employees in the production department have the capacity to mould the products they deliver in the market to meet the needs of customers.

However, they rarely have the opportunity to interact with the customers in order to understand their changing needs. They cannot stop their assignments in the production unit to go to the market to understand the views of clients. One of the respondents noted that the best way of bridging the gap between the sales representatives and employees in the production department is to use an integrated information system where knowledge is freely shared. The employees in the production department should regularly be updated by sales representatives to ensure that products taken to market meet expectations of customers. This will help in improving the volume of sales in the firm.

Improved research and knowledge sharing

The dynamism in the business environment requires constant research and knowledge sharing in order to maintain production strategies that reflect the prevailing market condition. According to the research by Wilson and Graham (2013), all the departments within a firm must maintain regular research in order to know the best practices in their respective fields. Once this knowledge is collected from the field, it should be analysed and interpreted in the context of an individual firm.

The approach that a financial institution may take after collecting a given piece of information may be different from the way a hotel may react because they are in different industries. According to one of the respondents interviewed in this project, a marketing information system may help in improving the way information is shared within the firm. A department must share with all other departments about the information they gather from the field that may make it necessary to change various processes.

Other related departments will only appreciate such a change if they know why it is necessary. Through an integrated communication system, information can be made available for all the departments so that they can determine how to react to the dynamism in the market. Through knowledge sharing among different departments, the quality of service is improved. This way, the overall sales is increased due to the expected high number of repeat purchases.

Improved resource management

The respondents also noted that marketing information system helps in improving the management of resources. The following figure shows views of the respondents on the relevance of MIS in resource management.

Improved resource management

The pier chart above shows that the majority of the respondents (98%) felt that the marketing information system improves resource management. One of the respondents, a sales representative in an electronic shop in Riyadh, stated that MIS eliminates duplication of work. It helps in clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of an individual employee within their sales department. Cases, where tasks overlap, are eliminated and so are incidents where tasks are left undone. Proper management of time through this system enables management to ensure that resources are assigned effectively to the existing employees, including time which is a very important resource,

Understanding the trends in the tourism sector

Tourism is one of the most important economic activities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. All the respondents who participated in this study noted that their businesses are affected by tourism either directly or indirectly. Firms in the hospitality industry rely heavily on tourism. Banks need tourisms not only to improve their transactions but also to earn foreign exchange. The foreign exchange brought by tourists also helps in strengthening local currency, a fact that reduces inflation in the entire economy. This makes it necessary for firms to understand trends in the tourism sector.

A marketing information system is the best way of understanding the trends in the tourism sector. According to Shalaby (2004), the holy cities of Mecca and Medina are the major reasons why many people come to this country as tourists. They come as pilgrims to affirm their faith. However, one of the respondents says that the number of people coming to the country for business purposes and tourism which are not related to pilgrimage is on the rise. Visitors coming to the country for different reasons may need different products in the market. One of the respondents noted that their hotel is now using marketing information system to understand the specific need of tourism in order to offer them products that meet their specific need. The strategy has helped the firm to increase its customer base because its products uniquely meet their needs.

Determining the growth of customer trust

It was also established that the management information system also helps in determining the growth of customer trust. It is the wish of every firm to monitor the growth of customer trust based on the products they offer (Wilson & Graham, 2013). In the past, this was not an easy task. However, one of the respondents stated that it is now becoming easier than it was before to determine the growth of customer trust. Emerging technologies have made it possible.

The respondent stated that they are using MIS to determine repeat purchases on various products as one of the ways of determining growth in customer trust. Another way that firms are using to determine this trust is through the monitoring of online activities of customers, especially when planning to make their purchases. For instance, these firms would determine the first and last sites that the customers visit whenever they want to make their purchases.

Many firms also follow online reviews in order to determine the views of customers about the products they offer. Positive reviews and regular visits into a website of a given firm is a sign of growing trust among customers. A firm can use this knowledge to adjust its products or production strategies to meet the needs of customers. This will, in turn, increase sales in the market.

  • What are the major hindrances affecting the implementation of a marketing information system in Saudi Arabia?

From the primary research conducted in this study, it was found that some hurdles restricted the private firms from using the advantages of IS. It is important to identify the hurdles that limit the implementation of a marketing information system in this country. The following are some of the hindrances that were identified.

Limited support from the IT industry

It was also found that the IT industry failed to support firms as they had no commitment to IT expertise. Our research confirmed the above claims. In the two organisations, it was realised that a lack of support from the IT experts was a major challenge for Saudi Arabian firms who want to exploit the marketing information system to increase their sales performance. Many firms in this country are willing to move to the next level in terms of digitising their operations.

Use of a marketing information system is part of this digital migration. However, most of them are struggling with this migration because the IT industry is yet to roll out their projects and focus on helping the firms to digitise their operations. One of the respondents noted that if the players in the IT industry can engage firms in this country on how to use emerging technologies, then many firms will embrace technology-based marketing strategies.

Phobia towards change

Some respondents noted that another major hindrance towards change is a phobia. Some employees, especially the elderly, fear change. These elderly employees are in a managerial position, making it difficult for many firms to implement change. When junior employees come up with innovative ways of managing marketing activities, the management would sometimes ignore or even reject their strategies. This has limited the capacity of some firms to implement marketing information strategies in this country.

Associated costs

The respondents noted that costs associated with managing marketing information system are prohibitive, especially to small firms that have limited financial capacity. Most of the vendors of these software and hardware have set very high prices for their products in the market. This observation is supported by Wilson and Graham (2013), who says that in Saudi Arabia, some firms are yet to digitise their operations because of the high costs of installation and maintenance of the systems. Some of the customers also find it very expensive purchasing data bundles from the local internet providers. The issue of costs should be addressed to enhance the capacity of local Saudi firms to digitise their processes.

In addition to these, the above primary studies selected as a part of the secondary research were assessed. On looking at the several factors that influence the sale outcomes of an organisation, it was found that people purchase goods based on quality, pricing and service. If service were not provided promptly, the customer satisfaction diminished. The reactions of the customer were usually based on different cultural factors and psychological variables.

Social status and friends also influenced the customer’s buying decisions. It was identified that in the present times of advanced technology and information explosion, social status and persuasion of friends are no longer a major element of influence for buying products. It needs other external factors and elements initiated from the company’s side. That means the development of a strategic approach of the companies to influence the customers by implementing their marketing tool is just like any other advertisement campaign. In addition to it, marketing strategies are originated through the company’s decision-makers and managers by utilising the information from the marketing information systems.

Sales strategies that have evolved with the help of MIS are eventually carried over to the end of the sales. Through this, sales can be promoted. Therefore, it was established that marketing information system helps the promotion of sales performance in Saudi Arabia. However, culture and personal factors such as age, income, profession, self-esteem, and loyalty also promoted the buying tendencies of Saudi Arabians customers.

To assess customer loyalty, information like types, and frequency of purchase relating to the customer was analysed. All these should come from the marketing information systems. It was discovered that through this, marketers could implement their marketing strategies. With the help of MIS, the customer buying frequencies could be tracked, and strategies could be developed to retain the customer, thereby enhancing the sales.

Conclusion

The review of literature and analysis of primary data reveals that there is an explicit relationship between the components of the marketing information system and decision-making mechanisms. The management takes decisions based on the information provided by the management information system. Sales strategy is also conceived with the help of this system. The salespersons are at the far end of the organisation set up, and they are responsible for carrying out their obligations to the company in terms of sales outcome, which is fulfilled because of MIS’s assistance. The above means marketing information has a direct impact on the salesperson in achieving the target and increasing the outcome of the sale.

It should be noted that marketing information systems comprise of a collection of measures and techniques for customary scheduling, compilation, examinations, and presentation of data for use in coming up with marketing choices. In the report, the effects of marketing information systems on sales performance in Saudi Arabia have been highlighted. The report researched on the different features of marketing information systems. To achieve this, the research assessed people’s behaviours, technology, and the processes used to scan and gather data from the operations within the selected corporations and from the field.

The aim of this report was to study the effect of the Marketing information system on sales performance. On analysing the data relating to the various studies included in the literature, it was concluded that the marketing information system is proactive in its basic characteristics. Without the help of the information system, a company’s management could not work effectively. It is because almost every function of the management team is intended to achieve the aims and objectives of the company and the subordinates are working for attaining those objectives.

For this, the managers should develop certain strategies with the help of MIS. The benefits of the Marketing information systems are enjoyed by every individual of the company, that is, from the management level to the salespersons. Since the salespersons work according to the information provided by the MIS, every product sold by them is accountable as the performance of the marketing information system. As such, it is evident that MIS has its effect on promoting sales in Saudi Arabia.

The research also revealed that there are a number of factors that have limited the capacity of firms in Saudi Arabia to implement marketing information system strategies in their operations. One of the leading factors is limited support from the players in the IT industry. In order to facilitate the digitisation of marketing processes, IT firms are expected to work alongside other firms in the country and guide them in this delicate transition process.

Another hindrance is phobia towards change. Most of the top managers are elderly people who are very wary of radical changes brought about by digitisation. This has made it difficult for younger and techno-savvy managers to introduce change. Some of the respondents also noted that associated costs of implementing this digital strategy are prohibitive. In order to enable firms in Saudi Arabia to implement digital strategies, it will be necessary for all the stakeholders to come together and find a common solution, as stated in this paper.

Recommendation

It is clear from the discussion above that the marketing information system can no longer be ignored by firms in Saudi Arabia. That is why the researcher considered it necessary to come up with a number of recommendations that firms in this country should consider in order to manage the current market competition.

Policy recommendations to Saudi firms

The applications of information technology are fast developing, and no business can improve without adopting them. Therefore, it was suggested that the marketing information systems of an organisation should adopt the latest technologies for improving its sales performance as well as the management functions. Similarly, it was noted that a few researchers had been done on the effects of marketing information system on the sales performance in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, the few pieces of research are based on studies done in the western world. Therefore, firms should allocate more resources and personnel to investigate the topic. There should be an effort among the local firms to find local solutions to the local problems using emerging technologies.

During the research, it was noted that regardless of the enhanced government intervention in championing for the use of marketing information system in Saudi Arabia, a number of challenges were preventing the firms from utilising the benefits of the system.

The challenges comprised of exterior factors such as inadequate support from the IT industry and access to IT resources. Similarly, some internal factors, such as the inadequate commitment by the industry’s IT experts, contributed to the challenges. Therefore, in the future, firms should try to tackle these challenges for them to exploit the systems to their full potential. In addressing these challenges, these firms should make an effort to involve all the stakeholders, especially when it becomes necessary to make a major shift from the commonly used strategies. This may involve training the employees and explaining to the top executives why it is necessary to introduce change within the system.

Policy recommendations to IT investors

Similarly, the researchers noted that most of the marketing information systems were not developed locally. Therefore, there are more opportunities for Saudi Arabian system developers to come up with local systems. Systems designed locally will serve the users appropriately because the developers understand the Saudi Arabian market, unlike the foreign developers. With the help of locally developed MIS, marketing the decision-makers in Saudi Arabia can develop specific and accurate marketing strategies to achieve their companies’ aims and objectives. The IT firms in this country should consider giving Saudi firms direct and indirect assistance in their digital migration. They should help these firms to overcome challenges they face trying to use the marketing information system to improve their sales performances.

Policy recommendations to the government

The government of Saudi Arabia also has a role to play in the process of enhancing the implementation of the marketing information system among the local firms. The government should encourage technological innovation by equipping our learning institutions. This will ensure that our graduates have skills and knowledge needed to operate in a digital market. It was stated that the cost of some of the hardware and software needed to implement the digital strategies are too high. The government can help in addressing this problem by subsidising these products as a way of lowering their costs.

References

Alotaibi, M. B. (2013). E-Commerce Adoption in Saudi Arabia: an Assessment of International, Regional and Domestic Web Presence. International Journal of Information Technology and Computer Science, 5(2), 42-56.

Brdesee, H. & Corbitt, B. (2013). Barriers and motivations affecting Information. Systems usage by Hajj–Umrah religious tourism operators in Saudi Arabia. Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 18(1), 11-16.

Shalaby, N. (2004). SME’s Development in Saudi Arabia. Riyadh: Eastern Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Oxford Business Group (2008). The Report: Saudi Arabia 2008. London: Oxford Press.

Wilson, P. & Graham, D. (2013). Saudi Arabia: The Coming Storm. New York: M.E. Sharpe.

Questionnaires

Section A: Background Information

  • You nationality:
    • Saudi ____
    • Non-Saudi _____
  • Your gender:
    • Male _______
    • Female _______
  • The highest level of education:
    • High School_____
    • Bachelor’s_______
    • Master’s _______
    • Doctorate______
    • Other ____
  • Do you understand the concept of marketing information system? (Tick as appropriate)
    • Yes
    • No
  • Are you satisfied with the current application of marketing information systems by firms in Saudi Arabia?
    • Strongly satisfied
    • Satisfied
    • Not sure
    • Dissatisfied
    • Strongly dissatisfied

Section B: For Sales Representatives Only

  • Are you a sales person?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Do you know what Marketing Information System (MIS) is?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Do you think MIS of your company has increased your sales performance? –
    • Strongly agree
    • Agree
    • Not sure
    • Disagree
    • Strongly disagrees
  • Do you think that you will need further innovation of MIS to meet your requirements?
    • Strongly agree
    • Agree
    • Not sure
    • Disagree
    • Strongly disagrees
  • Do you believe your company’s MIS is advanced?
    • Strongly agree
    • Agree
    • Not sure
    • Disagree
    • Strongly disagrees
  • Do you think the top management of your firm is doing enough to enhance application of MIS in the marketing unit?
    • Strongly agree
    • Agree
    • Not sure
    • Disagree
    • Strongly disagrees
  • How relevant are emerging technologies in managing customer needs?
    • Very relevant
    • Relevant
    • Not sure
    • Irrelevant
    • Very irrelevant
  • Are you satisfied with the progress that you and other sales representatives are making in understanding MIS?
    • Strongly satisfied
    • Satisfied
    • Not sure
    • Dissatisfied
    • Strongly dissatisfied
  • Do you believe that MIS is the future of marketing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? (Kindly explain)
  • What are some of the suggestions you can give to the management of your firm on how to improve application of MIS? (Kindly give a brief explanation)

Section C: For Employees Holding Managerial Positions Only

  • What is your official position in your organisation? (Tick the appropriate job title):
    • Junior manager/Supervisor
    • Middle manager
    • Top manager
  • Do you know what Marketing Information System (MIS) is?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Do you think MIS of your company has increased your decision making power?
    • Strongly agree
    • Agree
    • Not sure
    • Disagree
    • Strongly disagrees
  • Do you think your MIS has helped you in achieving the company’s aims and objectives?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Do you think your MIS has helped to improve the sales performance?
    • Strongly agree
    • Agree
    • Not sure
    • Disagree
    • Strongly disagrees
  • Do you think that you will need further innovation of MIS to meet your requirements?
    • Very necessary
    • Necessary
    • Not sure
    • Unnecessary
    • Very unnecessary
  • Do you think that your company’s MIS is sophisticated?
    • Very sophisticated
    • Sophisticated
    • Not Sure
    • Unsophisticated
    • Very unsophisticated
  • Do you need further improvement in your MIS?
    • Very necessary
    • Necessary
    • Not sure
    • Unnecessary
    • Very unnecessary
  • Are you satisfied with the effort that you have made as a manager in enhancing your firm’s ability to implement MIS?
    • Strongly satisfied
    • Satisfied
    • Not sure
    • Dissatisfied
    • Strongly dissatisfied
  • Are you satisfied with the effort that the junior employees have made in enhancing your firm’s ability to implement MIS?
    • Strongly satisfied
    • Satisfied
    • Not sure
    • Dissatisfied
    • Strongly dissatisfied
  • What are some of the major challenges that your firm has faced when implementing marketing information system? How have you been dealing with these challenges?

Section D: For Online Marketing Experts Only

  • How long have you been practicing as an online marketing expert within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?
    • Less than one year
    • 1-3 years
    • 4-6 years
    • 7-10 years
    • Over 10 years
  • What is the trend in marketing information system among firms in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? (Kindly explain)
  • Are you satisfied with the current trend in MIS application among firms in this country?
    • Strongly satisfied
    • Satisfied
    • Not sure
    • Dissatisfied
    • Strongly dissatisfied
  • Do you believe that players in the IT industry are doing enough to help firms in this country migrate to the digital business platforms?
    • Strongly agree
    • Agree
    • Not sure
    • Disagree
    • Strongly disagrees
  • What are some of the major challenges that firms in Saudi Arabia face as they try to adopt marketing information system? How can they overcome these challenges?
  • Do you believe that firms in Saudi Arabia currently have the capacity to migrate to the digital platform?
    • Strongly agree
    • Agree
    • Not sure
    • Disagree
    • Strongly disagrees
  • Are you satisfied with your role as an online marketing expert in promoting adoption of MIS among the local Saudi firms?
    • Strongly satisfied
    • Satisfied
    • Not sure
    • Dissatisfied
    • Strongly dissatisfied
  • Are you satisfied with the current effort made by the players in the IT industry in enabling firms in the country to embrace MIS in their marketing strategies?
    • Strongly satisfied
    • Satisfied
    • Not sure
    • Dissatisfied
    • Strongly dissatisfied
  • Do you believe that the Saudi government is doing enough to help local firms to migrate successfully to the digital platform?
    • Strongly satisfied
    • Satisfied
    • Not sure
    • Dissatisfied
    • Strongly dissatisfied
  • What are your recommendations to the local firms and other relevant stakeholders in addressing problems faced in implementing MIS strategies?