Small And Medium Size Business Are Moving To The Cloud

In a recent press release, Microsoft announced the highlights of their global “SMB Cloud Adoption Study 2011,” which investigates how cloud computing will impact small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in the next three years. The release noted that 39 percent of SMBs expect to be paying for one or more cloud services within the next 36 months. The study also noted that the number of cloud services SMBs pay for (fee based as opposed to free based) will nearly double in most countries over the next three years.

Cloud based computing levels the playing field, allowing SMBs to leverage sophisticated technology without the need to invest in IT infrastructure or staff. For example, eMarketing, web meetings, web seminars, sales force automation, CRM, asynchronous collaboration, event registration and video calling can all be done in the cloud, and most if not all of these are available for truly modest investments. This allows small businesses to virtualize, minimizing brick and mortar overhead to optimize profit margins.

Additional highlights of the release included:

  • SMBs which are paying for cloud services will increase to over 3 services, up from less than two services currently used today.
  • Eighty-two percent of SMBs say buying cloud services from a provider with local presence is critical or important.
  • The larger the business, the more likely it is to pay for cloud services (this was somewhat surprising since small and emerging business are often cash strapped and seeking cost effective alternatives to infrastructure investment)

The study also looked at adoption of software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Software as a Service models are achieving large scale adoption with many SMBs as they embrace less virtual cloud based solutions over in house, client server based type solutions. Cloud solutions minimize the need for in house technical expertise, servers, staffing, overhead, backup and a plethora of infrastructure (IaaS) related challenges.

These challenges are often daunting for a small business or startup, removing the need for IT technical acuity, staffing and infrastructure allows these emerging business to increase focus on development, sales and marketing initiatives. Reduced IT infrastructure also infers office space requirements, or the ability to work virtually from home based offices.

Popular cloud based solutions include: Collaboration, Customer Management, Finance & Accounting, Risk & Compliance, HR & Employee Management, Communications, Marketing, Sales and Operations to name a few key categories now available in the cloud. Some well know names in these categories include Adbobe, GoToMeeting, Salesforce.com, Google Docs, RightNow, DropBox and Skype, but these are only a few of the many now available. eMarketing applications have seen some major cloud computing innovations over the last few years, delivering increased functionality and sophistication at some cost effective premiums. The writing is on the wall, or perhaps skywriting might be a more appropriate term, cloud computing is making major inroads into SMBs and start-ups.