The first step in understanding if a particular type of technology will be important to a market is to understand why it might be important: how can the technology meaningfully address the business needs within the target community? This begs in turn a more fundamental question – what are these needs?
Techaisle’s recent SMB Cloud Adoption survey shows that the top ten business issues identified by SMBs align with well-recognized cloud attributes or applications. For example, cloud is seen as a way of delivering improved automation to a very wide range of functions, within IT and across the business as a whole; these solutions improve processes, which in turn will improve production and support of products. Cloud also supports key collaborative technologies (notably, mobility and file exchange), which have a positive impact on productivity, and cloud is viewed as the primary platform for ‘systems of engagement’ that help businesses attract and retain new customers. Cloud encompasses many different types of offerings, which deliver benefits that align with SMB needs.
Similar observations are made regarding the challenges faced by small and midmarket businesses.
Relative to the cost of conventional hardware and software, cloud is generally very cost effective (with application solutions typically 33%-70% less expensive than equivalent on-premise alternatives), and its OPEX-based billing model works well for cash-constrained SMBs. Cloud is viewed as the best platform for supporting mobility, and buyers expect cloud providers to deliver some native security, and are prepared to invest to extend those capabilities. The alignment of cloud capabilities and SMB needs is apparent elsewhere the list of challenges as well: storage is currently the cloud capability that is most widely-used by US SMBs; cloud’s ‘as-a-Service’ delivery model reduces the need for individual SMBs to attract and retain specialized IT staff; and cloud provides SMBs that are often unable to maintain refresh cycles with ‘always-on’ access to current technology.
The potential of cloud to contribute meaningfully to expanding business success and addressing business challenges is certainly not lost on the SMB community. As seen below, cloud is cited as a top IT priority by 92% of SMBs surveyed – a proportion that is roughly 30% higher than the next most important IT priority (social media), and nearly double the rate at which SMBs report focus on collaboration, the fourth-most prominent investment category for the year.
Above data is weighted by employee size.
The motivation for emphasizing cloud as an IT investment area is further underscored by responses to questions probing the role of technology within SMBs. 60% of SMBs view technology as a means of improving productivity, and similar proportions of respondents see technology as a means of achieving higher levels of responsiveness to customer needs, improving operational efficiency, facilitating business process automation, and improving internal communications.
360° on Cloud Computing in US SMBs
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