Online and events may grab the headlines (and are certainly focal points for IDG) but one of the company’s most significant areas of investment will be databases, according to president Bob Carrigan. "In b-to-b, historically publishers haven’t exploited databases to the extent they can, in terms of creating lead-generation businesses," he says.

IDG has aggregated its database operations through IDG Connect, which features more than 6 million names from databases around the company. "Of that 6 million, we’re trying to get the ones with permissions, so we can communicate with them," says Carrigan. "We’re leveraging our media properties in print and online, and doing our best to create a database business to generate revenue streams directly;we can promote white papers and Webcasts and newsletters and other products."

With its recent purchase of online network, IDG gained names of several hundred thousand senior IT professionals. "Now you can buy the audience vertically by brand or by audience," says Carrigan. "We used to think of databases in terms of circulation databases that drove magazine subscriptions. In a way, the tail was wagging the dog, because now we’re using print magazines and Web sites to create databases, and the databases in and of themselves have unique revenue streams."

Events, magazines and online products will all funnel to the database development effort. "The constant theme is connecting directly with users," says Carrigan. "Events and online lead gen look very similar to each other in that regard. Those things feed off each other. You create databases that can help you promote events, and once you create those events they help create new user pools."

IDG is investing in databases not only at the corporate level but also at the unit level. "We’re looking at tech investment and people investment," says Carrigan. "We’re getting our sales folks proficient at selling these programs."

Training existing staff is a priority over hiring new positions. "We try to stay lean," says Carrigan. "You don’t necessarily need a ton of more people. Part of this issue of moving investment from one place to another is the people bandwidth you have. The solution is not to just throw bodies at this."

"The strength of our brands. We have a deep history with our brands, and combined with modern, online techniques, that’s a pretty powerful combo. There are a lot of upstarts, but we have critical mass."

"We’re in a hot market right now but like any publishing sector, we expect it to cool off at some point."

Databases, lead generation programs, online, face-to-face events.

"As we jump into these areas, the competitive set is much larger."