A number of recent developments have convinced me that 2009 is the year in which mind mapping software will break into the mainstream as a widely accepted business productivity tool. It has reached an “inflection point” where we will see more rapid growth than ever before.
Here are the factors that I believe will drive this rapid growth:
The barriers to adoption are falling: Tools have recently emerged that enable workers who do not have licensed copies of a major mind mapping software package to collaborate with those who do. I’m speaking here specifically about Mindjet’s recent announcement of the Mindjet Connect collaborative workspace and the MindManager Web client. The former is a collaborative workspace where work teams can share my maps and other files, while the latter is a new web client that replicates much of the functionality of the excellent MindManager desktop PC application. Both are available on an affordable subscription basis. When used together, this trio of tools significantly lowers the cost of deployment to corporations, while bringing workers who don’t have licensed copies of MindManager into the collaboration loop. BusinessWeek magazine recognized the significance of this new family of visual mapping and collaboration tools in a recent article. The author states, “The company may have hit a tipping point with the new online version that came out in November… So much Web 2.0 stuff targets people with a lot of free time on their hands. It doesn’t add much value. But this Mindjet application is the kind of thing that, eventually, could give Web 2.0 a good name.” MindManager Web is also an easy way for individuals and organizations to try out mind mapping software, without making a big investment in licensed desktop software. I believe that this new business model, as pioneered by Mindjet, will help to drive much wider adoption of mind mapping tools in 2009.
It plays well with other productivity tools: The leading mind mapping software programs have evolved to the point where they integrate very tightly with other productivity software, such as the Microsoft Office suite. This makes the process of moving your information and ideas from a mind map into other formats almost seamless. As a result, mind mapping software will enjoy growing acceptance as a powerful “front end” tool for developing projects, presentations, reports and for performing other common business tasks.
The move to open source mapping software is expanding: XMIND’s recent announcement that it will offer an open source version of its well-designed mind mapping program will further help to drive increased adoption of mind mapping software by business (click here for Vic Gee’s interview with an official of XMIND, who explains the reasoning behind their open-source move). Many people are already familiar with FreeMind, an open-source mind mapping program that is now downloaded over 5,000 times a day – that’s over 1.8 million potential new users per year! It has effectively become a no-cost way for people to try out mind mapping software, to see if it fits with their work style and workflow. It remains to be seen, however, how long it will take for a community of developers to coalesce around XMIND to help drive its future development and the creation of plug-ins to enhance its utility. Still, the move by a major software developer to offer an open-source version of its application is quite significant, in my opinion.
The outlook for future growth is bright: According to the developers of desktop mind mapping software, who I surveyed during December for some business outlook research I’m conducting, say they expect the market for mind mapping software to grow more than 25% during the next three years. Despite the current economic conditions, nearly 90% of them said they are very optimistic about the worldwide outlook for mind mapping software for the next year.
Positive, growing media coverage: Mind mapping software has enjoyed increased exposure in the business and computer media during the last year or two. Many of these articles give the impression that mind mapping software is now ready for prime time, because it is well aligned with today’s business needs. In short, it’s a powerful antidote to information overload, and it can help executives to be more productive and creative – critical qualities for today’s challenging global economic conditions. Mindjet has published studies that show that its MindManager software can save businesspeople up to 2 hours a day, and my surveys have shown similar results; readers of this blog say that mind mapping software increases their productivity by an average of 20 percent. One of reasons why the acceptance of mind mapping software hasn’t grown any faster is a lack of awareness; this wave of increased media coverage should help to spread the word to more business people that mind mapping software is the “must-have” business tool that meets today’s challenges.
What do you think? Do you believe mind mapping software has reached an “inflection point” of more rapid growth? Please share your thoughts in the comments section of this post.