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David Addison
by David Addison
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2012 interactive marketing forecast: $61 billion

09/30/2011

For the past two years many of the staff at Dirigo has not taken a well-deserved break. Time off has been limited by a weak economy and our clients’ need to squeeze every ounce of I.T. resource to hold onto sales and profits. It is likely that the USA will still be facing a 9 percent unemployment rate at this time next year. This means that if you’re selling anything discretionary, you’re probably in for another lackluster year. 2012 is shaping up to much the same — it will be about honing competitive edge.

According to ComputerWorld, I.T. spending is forecast to increase next year. Companies are looking to reduce overall costs, but are investing in new ideas that have up-side. The focus is on cutting operational costs while shifting spending to new development. Every new dollar spent in I.T. is being cautiously vetted against ROI. Businesses want to spend! They’re desperate to spend on competitive differentiation and sales growth. Computerworld’s 2012 forecast survey found that more than 1/3 of the 353 I.T. executives polled said that I.T. budgets would increase next year. This is a wee bit more than last year. We've seen increased investment this year and expect more next as more marketing becomes interactive.

We’re not being allowed to run like a “black box”. Customers want to know where every dime is being spent and they want assurances that they’ll get their money back plus a nice profit. Forrester’s most recent study seems to validate the Computerworld survey. “I.T. managers will be cutting costs with one hand while supporting business innovation by spending more with the other”. The dollars are being spent in customer faced projects such as modernizing Web properties, mobile commerce, social media campaigns, support for marketing decisions, Web applications, competitive and business intelligence, and analytics. Perhaps the largest bets are being made in social media spending.

The I.T. shuffle will continue into 2012 and beyond as our clients continue to maximize benefits from interactive investments. Jorge Luis Borges, the great Argentine writer, once said that “everything touches everything.” Nothing could be truer for an Interactive agency heading into the next several years. We sit at the most interesting – and risky – intersection of marketing, operations, fulfillment, product development, finance, and HR. Information technology is everywhere and important for everything.

As we all suffer from information overload and project fatigue, we'd like to remind everyone to use some old fashioned technology — the phone. Pick it up and call your interactive team. Work out the details over the phone or in person. More projects with less staff and tighter time frames mean more SMS, chat, Skype, LinkedIn exchanges, e-mails, and WebEx meetings. Gains are achieve by stacking good decisions one atop the other. Good communication is paramount to success.

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