Tuesday, October 7, 2014

2014 Tech Marketing Budgets Showing Strength - Led by the Shift to the 3rd Platform

IDC's CMO Advisory Service recently completed our 12th annual Tech Marketing Benchmark Survey and just last week had our client and participant webinar readout. With the results in, tech marketers should be excited; there are clear signs that marketing is gaining more respect, more responsibility, and more budget! For the first time since 2006, Tech Marketing Budgets will increase at the same rate as revenues (3.5% increases for budgets, 3.7% for revenues.) Coupled with this, the absolute number of companies increasing their marketing budgets continues to rise. Party time, right?

Well, maybe not quite.

The tech industry has hit an inflection point around the 3rd platform (cloud, social, mobile, and big data & analytics.) In fact, IDC is projecting that within the next 5+ years the 3rd platform will cannibalize revenue growth from the 2nd platform. Meaning, not only will 3rd Platform driven products account for all the revenue growth within the tech industry, but they will take market share from what was previously 2nd platform revenue.

What does this mean for marketers? 

A lot actually, tech marketers are in the fortunate (or fortuitous) position of being smack in the middle of this shift to the 3rd platform. Not only are the technologies being marketed transforming, but the day-to-day job of a marketer is being greatly affected. This is because the true impact of this shift is within next generation types of applications, industries - and ultimately - capabilities that the 3rd platform provides. Moving forward every marketer and every marketing organization must be updating skills, technologies, and processes. A lot is at stake and budgets are a clear indicator;  3rd platform marketing organizations are being funded at 6 to 8 times greater than 2nd platform organizations (see image below). The largest tech companies in the world are shifting to the 3rd platform and often (as they should be) the marketing organizations are exerting significant energy to be a large part of this company-wide shift. IDC sees moving to the 3rd platform as mandatory and marketing is no exception.


What can a marketing organization do to make sure they succeed in transforming rather than succumbing to turmoil?


  1. Understand which parts of the business are 3rd platform: These are the areas that should be supported with stronger marketing spend.  These are the areas to integrate new marketing technologies and processes in first. These areas will make or break your entire company. Use this opportunity to position marketing as a driver for the company's future success!
  2. Invest in 3rd platform staff and programs: Supporting 3rd platform products is key, but marketing also needs to shift the way it operates. This means investing in 3rd platform technologies and skills like: marketing technology, sales enablement, content marketing, and data & analytics. These areas create leverage and efficiencies for the entire marketing organization. In short, putting the right people, in the right positions, with the right tools  gives your marketing organization its greatest opportunity for success. 
  3. Have a plan, but be realistic and be patient: The larger the company the more time should be allowed for this organizational shift to the 3rd platform. Marketing leaders must definitively set the end vision for their 3rd platform marketing organization, but at the same time must have the patience to see the entire process through. The path may be non-linear and there will certainly be failures and misdirection along the way, but despite the time and effort needed, the end results will pay back the marketing organization (and company) many times over. 

If you are interested in how your company's marketing organization stacks up as this shift to the 3rd platform continues, reach out to me directly at smelnick (at) IDC (dot) com.

You can follow @SamMelnick on Twitter

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