According to data released on Thursday, information technology companies are projected to have increased their marketing budgets at the highest increase rates in five years.

IDC, a market research firm, released date predicting IT vendor marketing budgets will increase by 7.5 percent for the full year of 2006. Alongside the increased investment, marketing productivity and efficiency indicators are also improving by several measures.

Many senior marketers are making significant progress within the corporate pillar of marketing, Richard Vancil, vice president of IDC's CMO Advisory Practice stated. IDC sees improvement in marketing's contribution to the strategic planning processes, and in marketing's ability to measure performance.

The research firm said that execution per marketing employee has increased by nearly 10 percent to $301,400, and the average vendor is leveraging its staff better, with program-to-people ration expanding to 65:35 for the year. The improvements are welcome, however there are still many areas for firms to optimize, IDC indicates.

This includes the need to improve alignment between corporate marketing and the product and field marketing disciplines, Vancil explains. Also, our essential guidance to clients includes establishment of an overall marketing skill set inventory and improvement program; and an increased investment- up to 5% of marketing budget - that should be earmarked for IT and infrastructure for the marketing function.

This study is based on 95 interviews conducted with senior marketing executives of the leading IT hardware, software, and services vendors, including Adobe, Cisco, HP, Intel, SAP, and Symantec, representing over $360 billion in IT revenues and over $12 billion in marketing spending.