Software suppliers (including developers of data warehousing and business intelligence applications) should be looking at e-communities as a major source of business despite the dot-com debacle, according to IDC, Framingham, Mass. The market for packaged software deployed specifically to support e-communities will grow from about $1 billion in 2001 to nearly $6 billion in 2004. This growth represents a jump from less than 0.1 percent of all software revenue to almost 2 percent during this time period, IDC projects.

"E-communities need all the same sorts of packaged software as brick-and- mortar businesses and organizations," says Dennis Byron, vice president of IDC's enterprise applications research. "In fact, the same packaged software strategies brick-and-mortar businesses use to reduce time to market and increase return on investment work for e-communities. Despite the applicability of similar strategies, however, e-communities are still different from brick and mortars in how they can deploy and use packaged software, and software marketers need to understand e-community needs and additional requirements, as well as the potential drivers and inhibitors, to penetrate this market."

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