Survey Study Finds That Groups Are Using Software and Internet Technologies But Want More

Clubs, groups and organizations play a significant part of the general population’s life outside of work and family. A survey was recently conducted to gain a better understanding of clubs and organizations trying to get online. The survey was conducted over the last 2 months and targeted random people who at least had email addresses. Given that this is somewhat of a self-selected audience, the results should not be viewed as indicative of the sentiment of the general population, however note that 2007 statistics show that over 70% of the United States are Internet users according to Nielsen/Netratings.

The results are as follows:

Group Participation – We’re Active

When asked what type of groups or clubs that people have been a part of, the most common answers were in “hobby or special interest group”, “charitable/volunteering and civic organizations”, “sports teams” and in a “school-related club (either as a child or parent)”. Each of these four areas had 52% to 55% of responses. The next tier of groups was in “online-only social networks” and “professional development association” at around 43%.

Surprisingly, religious and spiritual was low at 22% which contradicts some general research on groups where in the United States, religious groups are the most common of real world clubs/groups/organizations.

Of the people who responded, 51% are either serving or have served as an organizer, leader, officer or manager of a club. People in general do take on leadership roles in groups and it seems unlikely that a small group of people are the only ones starting and leading groups. A significant percentage of people are taking or have taken a leadership role.

When asked how many clubs they are currently a part of, the largest response was “two”, with 23%. The graph followed a bit of a bell curve with “one” and “three” being the next highest. 25% of respondents were currently part of five or more clubs.

Technology Usage among Groups – It’s High

Not surprisingly, the majority of respondents are using email for group communication (84%). Interpolating from the data, 70% of these are using a group email list such as Yahoogroups to communicate.

52% of groups are using personal productivity tools like Microsoft Word and Excel for planning, documentation, etc. And 30% of respondents have a private website for their members only.

Only 6% of respondents are not using any technology at all.

Satisfaction Level – Moderately Satisfied

When asked their level of satisfaction with the technology solution(s) they are using, the majority of respondents (51%) said that technology was sufficient but with it could do more. 29% said that technology was sufficient with no future need desired and 15% were very satisfied with technology and that it has helped them be very productive. Only 5% were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

When asked what they wished the technology solutions could do better at, 45% responded that they wish the solutions wouldn’t cost money and 38% said they wish it didn’t require technical resources to set up or manage. Only 21% wanted more functionality. 38% wanted their group technology to be more easy to use.

When asked what they wish technology could be used to help them, the largest response (32%) was to communicate better. To communicate better meant a variety of things, such as keeping everyone informed and up to date and keeping everybody on the “same page”. Ease of use and scheduling (at 19% each) was the next, with the most frequent concern that some members of the club were not computer fluent.

Not surprisingly when asked what their three most pressing concerns were the need to get members of the club better connected at 48%. A close second was to increase participation at 45%. A tie for third place was the need to plan events and other such activities better as well as the need to share information better so that members know what’s going on.

In Summary:

At least among the Internet user population, the use of technology for helping groups is high. There are a broad range of point solutions that help groups be more productive and organized. Technology is doing mostly a sufficient job but more than half don’t feel it is meeting their needs and wish it could do more. The most common ways to improve were to offer a lower cost (or free) solution that was easier to use. Improved communication and improved organization were the most often cited desires for technology to help them with. They hope that this helps their most pressing concerns of increased connectedness within the group and improved information sharing and planning within groups.

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