Score a bull's-eye

Amy Syracuse

Marketing has long been considered a right-brain profession, the domain of freethinkers for whom creativity and intuition trump analysis and logic. But in an ultracompetitive marketplace, it's not enough to execute vital business strategies with half a brain, so to speak. Not only are deep data mining and complex analysis equal partners in the process, but they're also essential to understanding customers and uncovering indications of their future wants and needs.

The gap between the art and science of marketing is where business intelligence (BI) technologies flourish – in a big way, in fact. Stamford, Conn.–based research firm Gartner, Inc. predicts that the worldwide business intelligence software market will reach a whopping $3 billion in 2009. Amid this growth, Mark LaRow, vice president of products at McLean, Va.–based MicroStrategy, notes that marketing and sales have become the second largest corporate user of BI technologies, behind finance departments. “The technology has been available for a long time,” he says. “It's the cultural step – having it ingrained in the [organization] to go to those levels of analysis – that is just breaking into most marketing departments.”