The growing demand within organizations for real-time and team-based collaboration technologies will drive the worldwide Web conferencing and team collaboration software market to US$681.7 million in 2005, a 16 percent increase over 2004, according to Gartner. By 2008, the market is expected to reach US$1.1 billion.
"The markets for Web conferencing and team-based collaboration, while still in an early phase of adoption, are converging and transitioning," says Tom Eid, vice-president and research director for Gartner.
"Vendors are providing more integrated collaboration functionality spanning a variety of content, communication and collaboration technologies. Overall adoption will continue to increase, as these technologies become more integrated with business processes."
Gartner analysts said other forms of collaboration (not included in this forecast), such as instant messaging (IM) and video conferencing, will also see increasing demand. IM is anticipated to become as popular as e-mail and, through the use of international standards, interoperate with other communication types.
Video conferencing will evolve to the desktop to support ad hoc conversations and become better integrated with Web conferencing and IM.
Web conferencing and team collaboration technologies will be provided as part of line-of-business applications, as well as ways to augment information access technologies, such as portals, helping to spur the growth of the market during the next few years.
Collaboration technologies, especially Web conferencing, have been used most frequently in North America. The Europe, Asia/Pacific and North America regions are all expected to meet or exceed the worldwide growth rate in 2005, with forecast increases of 16 percent, 20 percent and 16.3 percent, respectively.
Japan and Latin America are forecast to grow 12.4 percent and 10.2 percent, respectively.
"Cultural differences play a strong role in adoption of collaboration technologies," Eid says. "It is more common in North America and Europe to have meetings and other forms of interpersonal communication supported by collaboration tools. In other geographies, such as Latin America, e-mail is used as the primary mode of communication in lieu of horizontal collaboration technologies. In Asia/Pacific and Japan, face-to-face meetings are preferred and, at times, business travel for meetings is seen as a privilege."
Web conferencing collaboration products support interaction between participants in real time, in a meeting or presentation format. They include file, screen and application sharing, chatting and electronic white-boarding.
Team-based products provide shared folders and workspaces, threaded discussions and document-based collaboration and primarily through asynchronous behavior. Team-based technologies provide a persistent, easy-to-access archive of discussions and stored content.