In a report issued this week, research firm IDC reports that demand for online community software solutions in the workplace is growing steadily. According to the study, titled "U.S. Online Community Software 2009-2013 Forecast: Strong Growth Despite Recession," companies that are not providing these types of solutions for their employees are being trumped by employees who are doing it themselves, thus breeding security and privacy issues. This is not for lack of options -- there is a crowded market of online community software providers. It's due to delays in corporate culture evolving to embrace such communities.
Despite this, and despite a slow-down in technology spending due to recession, IDC forecasts that the U.S. online community software market will grow from $278.4 million last year to $1.6 billion in 2013, at a CAGR of 41.8%. IDC states that dominant vendors in the space reported double-digit growth rates in 2008 and higher than expected growth rates thus far in 2009.
According to the report, online community software came to be a market based on the recognition that customers, employees, partners and suppliers have emerged as the most valuable assets to a company. Online community softare is centered around social networking applications and leverages the interactive functionality of Web 2.0 technology including blogs, discussion forums, wikis, micro-messaging, bookmarking and tagging, creating a competitive market.
IDC expects this market to continue growing due to the following market forces:
- Web becomes more social and businesses want to participate
- Consumerization of IT
- Worker demand for Web 2.0 tools
- Global competitive pressures to innovate
"The lesson that technology is only as good as its user will be a hard lesson learned for many companies needing to focus more on community strategy and management than on the technology solution," says Caroline Dangson, IDC research analyst. "Online community software enables new ways of working that require a shift in mindset and culture. IDC finds that traditional corporate culture acts as a major barrier to adoption today, even more so than the economic downturn."
Download the full report.