By Matthew Southwell
Although the hype surrounding e-learning has died down a little, the market still presents a huge opportunity for vendors. IDC, for example, predicts that the global market will grow to US$23.7 billion in 2006.
While many countries in the Middle East continue to invest in e-learning technologies, demand has cooled in the global market in the past 18 months. Despite this, however, analysts at IDC believe that the worldwide corporate e-learning market remains a source of significant opportunity for vendors and investors alike. As such, it predicts that the global e-learning market will grow from US$6.6 billion in 2002 to US$23.7 billion in 2006. Unsurprisingly, the US market will present vendors with the most opportunities as it is slated to grow substantially over the next five years. Also, of the three principal e-learning segments tracked by IDC — content, infrastructure, and services — e-learning content will remain the largest market opportunity throughout the forecast period, while the services segment will offer the most rapid growth."There is still plenty of opportunity out there for investors in the corporate elearning market," says Michael Brennan, manager of IDC's Corporate Learning and Performance research. "Today's buyers are more pragmatic in terms of both their expectations and use of internet technology for training delivery. In the process of employing e-learning, however, many are becoming more dependent upon it," he adds. IDC believes that solid business cases and short-term ROI will continue to influence buying decisions made by those both inside and outside the training department. As such, the analyst recommends that vendors should have a well-reasoned and relatively easy-to-grasp message that includes both cost savings and productivity gains as customers, more often than not, want both.