IDC conference confronts thorny issues of marketing measurement

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New York—Even among high-tech vendors comfortable with complex systems, marketing performance metrics may be woefully lacking or tracking "low-hanging fruit," such as lead-generation or PR performance.

That was one of the conclusions of IDC's inaugural performance measurement summit for b-to-b marketers, held Wednesday here. The daylong event, which attracted about 130 attendees, looked at how technology marketers can defend their budgets, work better with their counterparts in sales and finance, and more effectively connect their marketing programs with bottom-line business goals.

Richard Vancil, VP of IDC’s CMO Advisory Research group, noted that the IT economy has cooled from its decadeslong double-digit growth rate (15% CAGR between 1960 and 1999) and is now forecast by IDC to grow only 4% annually between now and 2008. The impact, he said, will be increasing demands for accountability on both marketing and sales, as companies hunt for narrower niches and segments.

"If we’re accountable, we’d better start accounting," Vancil said.

The failure to measure starts with the executive staff, which in tech companies tends to come from engineering backgrounds. "So they are focused on products and functionality," said Stephen T. Hurley, VP-learning and performance excellence at the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) and a presenter at the IDC event. But as hardware and, increasingly, software become commodities, Hurley said, demand-generation will be the differentiating factor.

"The winners in the future will be marketing-led," Hurley said.

—Ellis Booker

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