The market for online community software, including social networking applications, is expected to grow to $1.6 billion in 2013, spurred by increased use in the enterprise, according to a recent study by market research firm IDC.
The market for online community software, including social
networking applications, is expected to grow to $1.6 billion in 2013,
spurred by increased use in the enterprise, according to a recent study
by market research firm IDC.
With consumer social networks going mainstream, people are demanding
similar applications in the workplace that provide easy-to-use and
many-to-many personalized online experiences for creating, publishing,
locating and sharing content internally and externally with colleagues,
customers and partners, IDC said.
Moreover, according to the IDC study, if these social community
applications are not provided by an organization, employees are
bringing them in on their own. Thus, one of the best ways to secure
social networking activities is for the organization to provide social
software for employees to use, IDC officials said. This emerging
business need has created a suddenly crowded market of online community
software providers aiming to make the business world a more social
place, the company said.
IDC forecasts that the U.S. online community software market will
grow from $278.4 million in 2008 to $1.6 billion in 2013 at a compound
annual growth rate of 41.8 percent. While the U.S. online community
software market was not immune to the recession, dominant vendors in
this space reported double-digit growth rates in 2008 and
higher-than-expected growth in the first half of 2009, IDC said.
Overall, the U.S. online community software market doubled in revenue
from $135.3 million in 2007 to $278.4 million in 2008 based on the
promise of online community software to help organizations deepen
relationships with customers and innovate at much faster speeds, the
The overall growth rate for U.S. online community software did not
meet expectations for 2008 due to the tough economy and drastic cuts in
marketing budgets, IDC officials said. However, IDC expects a
resurgence of growth in 2010 as the economy recovers, more traditional
enterprise players enter this market and methods for measuring return
on investment become more standardized, the research firm added. Still,
gaps in adoption will remain based on the failure among some
organizations to adjust to these more transparent ways of operating,
and some community initiatives will fail due to the lack of
understanding about the human capital investments required by the
community management model.
"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,"
said Caroline Dangson, an IDC research analyst, in a statement. "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
More information can be found in this IDC study, U.S. Online
Community Software 2009-2013 Forecast: Strong Growth Despite Recession
- Corporate Culture Remains Inhibitor (IDC #219642), which forecasts
expenditures on online community software by businesses in the United
States from 2009 to 2013.
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.