Virtualization, CRM Apps Lead Software Market Growth: IDC

The CRM applications market powered by social media is motivating organizations to invest in their customer-handling infrastructure, an IDC report finds.

For the first half of 2012, the worldwide software market grew 4.7 percent year-over-year, reaching a total market size of $167 million, led by growth in CRM applications, virtualization software and system infrastructure software, according to IDC's latest Worldwide Semiannual Software Tracker report.

The applications segment, one of the three primary segments of commercial software in IDC's software taxonomy, which holds almost 49 percent of overall market share, was the fastest-growing market group, with 5.1 percent year-over-year growth.

Both virtualization markets—virtual machine and cloud system software, and virtual client computing—were among the fastest-growing software markets. Among the enterprise applications markets, the CRM applications market stood out as three out of four CRM market segments performed at a double-digit rate in the first half. The only CRM segment that experienced single-digit growth was the contact center market. The other three markets, customer service, marketing and sales, had a combined growth rate of more than 12 percent, according to the report.

"Increasingly, companies are thinking of social solutions as decision support and ad hoc work facilitators and are looking for richer features that integrate data and content with people and systems," Vanessa Thompson, IDC research manager for enterprise social networks and collaborative technologies, said in a statement. "In the new collaborative enterprise, companies are extending asynchronous data and content-sharing capabilities to enable collaboration with a broader range of external constituents, including customers, partners and suppliers."

In the collaborative applications segment, team collaborative applications and enterprise social software posted strong growth rates over the last two years. The enterprise social software moved from 3 percent market share within the collaborative applications secondary market in 2008 to more than 11 percent in the first half of 2012, while the team collaborative applications market grew almost 15 percent during the first half of 2012, IDC reported.

The report noted the virtual machine and cloud system software market experienced lower growth of 17.8 percent in the first half, while the virtual client computing market maintained the low double-digit growth rate it has experienced over the past three years. Other virtualization-related technologies, such as the workload scheduling and automation market, followed the same high-growth patterns as the core technology segments, as the industry matures its solutions and customers begin to transform their desktops and work spaces.

"Virtual machine software unit shipments still remain healthy and growing, but have seen some slowdown in mature markets that have high virtualization rates. Business models are shifting as well, with the hypervisor drawing less direct revenue and increasingly becoming an embedded feature of operating systems and cloud system software," Gary Chen, IDC research manager for cloud and virtualization system software, said in a statement. "Competition in the market is fiercer than ever, with vendors like Microsoft and Red Hat challenging market leader VMware with increasingly capable and cheaper solutions. Cloud system software, which includes platforms such as vCloud, OpenStack and CloudStack, remains a nascent market, but holds a lot of promise as customers evolve from virtualized infrastructure to cloud infrastructure."