2011 Tech Trends: Online Communities Top Spending

John Ragsdale is vice president of technology research for the Technology Services Industry Association. Ragsdale’s currently attending Technology Services World Silicon Valley, where he recently made a presentation on the major tech trends for 2011. Republished with permission from Ragsdale’s Eye on Service.

Yesterday at Technology Services World I presented the findings of my 2011 Member Technology Survey during the TSIA Power Hour, a series of breakouts lead by TSIA Research and executives. The 2011 Spending Reports for each discipline (support services, professional services, field services, education services) are now available to read or download from TSIA.com.

Based on the survey findings, here are some of the major technology trends for 2011:

  • Planned spending remains very high. During the down economy of 2008 and 2009, there weren’t a lot of new technology purchases happening. That changed last year, with the 2010 survey showing high member spending in many areas, including communities, intelligent search and mobility tools. Interestingly, though spending remains very high again this year, especially for communities and knowledge management, adoption did not increase dramatically from last year. This indicates to me that while companies have dollars to spend, the sales cycles are growing longer and stretching into this year. This is partially due to tough competition for deals, but also because CIOs are pushing some support projects to broaden into enterprise projects–especially around knowledge management and search.

    John Ragsdale

  • Communities are king. Online communities and discussion forums have been on the top of the spending list for 3 years now, and they top the list again in 2011, with 48% of members having budget for additional community tools in 2011-2012. But these aren’t all support communities–adoption of community tools for employees and partners are growing as well, with increased adoption of forums across professional services and field service.
  • 2011 kicks off major overhauls of infrastructure. One of the top complaints from members in the last 5 years has been that they are unable to upgrade to the latest versions of CRM because their infrastructure is so old and heavily customized that IT keeps delaying a massive migration project. Well, it looks like 2011 may be the year some of these 15 year old CRM/ERP platforms are being upgraded or replaced. Spending on CRM is high for the first time in 5 years, with 37% of members having budget for additional CRM tools in 2011-2012.
  • OnDemand or else. When building the short list of vendors, everyone wants at least 1 SaaS solution included for comparison. The rapid growth of SaaS tools is impressive–check out this data comparing the percentage of members using a SaaS product for incident management. Only 12% were using an OnDemand tool in 2006, but that number has jumped to 40% today.  Keep in mind, however, that there are tradeoffs between ease of use and functional complexity–OnDemand is not the best fit for everyone.

I’ll be back later with more inside scoop from TSW. Thanks for reading!

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