Microsoft Corp. released a new research report that predicts small and midsize businesses (SMBs) will significantly increase investment in paid cloud services over the next five years. “Drivers & Inhibitors to Cloud Adoption for Small and Midsize Businesses” was conducted by Edge Strategies and indicates that paid cloud services will double by 2017, and the number of small companies using one or more cloud services is expected to triple by 2015.
Among the key findings, researchers found that 53% of all SMBs expect sales growth over the next 12 to 18 months, and among SMBs already using cloud services the percentage expecting sales growth is 63%. SMBs overwhelmingly view themselves as “the backbone of the economy” and look to cloud services to improve productivity and support mobility.
“Gone are the days of large enterprises holding the keys to enterprise-class IT and services,” said Marco Limena, vice president, Operator Channels, Microsoft. “The cloud levels the playing field for SMBs, helping them compete in today’s quickly changing business environment, by spending less time and money on IT and more time focused on their most important priority — growing their businesses.”
Cloud computing delivers lower-cost operations and faster access to critical information using a wide range of devices. 59% percent of companies currently using cloud services report significant productivity benefits from information technology, compared with just 30 percent of SMBs not yet using the cloud. And an overwhelming percentage of SMBs, 79%, believe that technology can make work more enjoyable.
Globally, SMBs are embracing cloud services to gain benefits and outpace competitors, with 50% indicating that cloud computing is becoming increasingly important for their operations. Sales expectations, key drivers and lowering concerns about cloud computing represent significant opportunities for service providers. 70% of SMBs view security as a priority for their services, but only 20% see cloud services as less secure than on-premises,while 36% believe data is as secure in the cloud as it is on their own systems.
The study shows that interest in cloud services is increasing as SMBs add more devices and services beyond email. Among the cloud services most SMBs expect to use within the next three years:
- Voice communications
- Online backup
- Web conferencing
- Instant messaging
- File sharing
- Project management
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
In addition smaller percentages expect to begin using cloud services for:
- Billing and accounting
- Human resources
- Inventory management
- Product design
- Delivery management
- Third-party data management
However, more than 60% of SMBs indicate they lack resources necessary for new technology implementations, and 52 % do not have the resources for employee training. At the same time, 56% of SMBs prefer buying IT and cloud services from a single source, and according to the report, “SMBs want a single source, diversity of business functions, and a spectrum of software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service and platform as a service services.”
The Microsoft SMB Business in the Cloud 2012 research report was designed and conducted in conjunction with Edge Strategies Inc. and questioned 3,000 SMBs that employ 2 to 250 employees across 13 countries worldwide: Australia, Brazil, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, South Korea,Spain, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S. Download a copy of the report, or view the full press release.