Interview with Prof. Thomas Brashear-Alejandro
Prof. Thomas Brashear-Alejandro
Marketing Professor at Isenberg School of Management UMassAmherst. Editor of Marketing Intelligence and Planning. Associate Editor (Sales Research) of the Journal of Business Research.
Can you please tell us about your main areas of research?
My key areas of research center around sales management, channel/supply relationships, and marketing strategy. The majority of this work is in business to business markets.
What were your main findings and contributions of your paper “The Role of Channel Orientation in B2B Technology Adoption”?
This study came about from various conversations with Fortune 500 companies and their adoption of technology in their general operations. We initial found a significant disconnect between the customer facing and the supply side of the organizations with regard to their adoption of technology. Essentially, they were not connected. If lead us to look deeper into what was the underlying rationale for such decisions. That lead us to uncover that firms had distinct orientations in their decision making and they were not all focused on value creation or customer satisfaction. The transactional orientation looked only at the benefits they could accrue rather than a system wide perspective. The demand side orientation decision making was based on what their customers essential told them or they understood that they needed. Lastly, we uncovered an orientation that was more in line with a system level performance which looked at long term relationships and long term potential benefits rather than short term. Along each type of orientation we found unique perspectives that firms need to consider when responding to requests for them to adopt certain technology and the degree with which they integrate that technology. Theoretically it opens the door for the need to look at decision influences that are not solely internal to the organization with is typical in the models to date. The orientation of the firm towards the usage and goals of the technology adoption must be included in future models.
Thomas, you have been collaborating with Prof. Wesley J. Johnston in CBIM International Conference since many years ago. Can you please tell about this Conference?
I have been connected to the CBIM since my time as a doctoral student at Georgia State in the mid 1990’s. I first attended the CBIM Academic Workshop as a faculty in 2003, and in 2008 began working with CBIM and Professor Johnston to organize the event. The tradition of the CBIM Workshop has been to bring researchers from across the world who are interested in business-to-business research to share their ideas and to build a network of faculty and doctoral students. The focus has expanded from a group of 50-75 to now being a multi track international conference having events in Puerto Rico, China, Spain, and Sweden.
You have attended many International Conferences, is there anything that distinguishes CBIM from the others?
The first distinction is that colleagues really get to know one another. By being focused solely on B2B, it has allowed for much more interaction between individuals to talk about their papers and ideas. The central focus has not limited the variety of topics, theoretical perspectives, or methodologies that have been presented. Doctoral students are very welcome and there is tremendous encouragement for their ideas. What B2B student would not want to spend a few days interacting with Professor Johnston and getting direct feedback about their work?
Could you please tells us about the quality of studies presented? What were your impressions before and after attending regarding the quality/relevance of the submissions?
The emphasis of the CBIM Workshop has always been on both finished work, work-in-progress and the development of ideas. The dynamic nature of the interaction among presenters and attendees, always leads to advancing or clarifying ones work, even for the finished work. We encourage presenters and attendees to submit their work to the various journals aligned with the thematic nature of each workshop.
What message do you have for young researchers on marketing?
Over the past 15 years, I have watched doctoral students go from their first conference presentation to publishing in major journals or even becoming editors of leading journals. The network for a young researcher will be enhanced by both the experience and the network they can develop. I have added many new colleagues and co-authors through this experience and it is also reflected in the work of many of the young researchers as they have progressed in their careers.
From your perspective, which are the main future challenges in B2B Marketing?
B2B Marketing has always been ahead of the curve in the areas of service perspectives, value creation and value capture, as well as relationship marketing. These have all been centered on understanding clients’ focus on value delivery. Datatization will be driving firms to build new products and services that supply data to buyers and the producers which will give both a better understanding of their performance but also for allow the producers to gather such detailed data to build their deep learning. It has always been difficult to articulate value and what customers really want, deep learning and artificial intelligence will be more able to do that as products and services through datatization.
As you know, as member of the Scientific Committee of CBIM2018, the theme of the International Conference is “Sustainable business models: integrating employees, customers and technology”. How relevant it is that employees, customers and technology can be integrated into the marketing strategies of companies? How can it be implemented effectively?
I think sustainability requires a perspective such as “What we look like today, may not be what we look like tomorrow”. Sustainability to me is aligning the needs of all the stakeholders you have mentioned for long term survival. Survival requires a constant focus on recognizing and solving problems internally and externally. Engaging all of the stakeholders in a constant search for potential problems within the organizational ecosystem and the broader ecosystem they operate is a requirement. This will also require encouraging a diversity of perspectives. Looking at issues from multiple perspectives breaks the potential failure from having momentum driven solely by path dependence. Lastly, I think firms need to develop business models based on flexible and varied resources. The narrow applicability of certain high performing resources will be difficult to transition away from when they are depleted or lose their value in the marketplace. Resources both human, physical, technological, and intellectual must have flexibility in their applications from learning and adaptation.