Number of SMBs Using Cloud Services Will Double in Five Years, Predicts Microsoft

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Microsoft announced this week it has released new research that predicts there will be a significant increase in paid cloud services over the next five years among small and midsize businesses.

The growing number of SMBs moving to the cloud signals a great opportunity for web hosting companies to sell cloud-based services catered to SMBs, such as hosting, storage and applications.

The survey results showed that paid cloud services are expected to double in five years, while the number of the world’s smallest companies using at least one paid cloud service will triple in the next three years.

For the study, Edge Strategies surveyed IT decision-makers or influencers at more than 3,000 SMBs in 13 countries. The complete report can be downloaded on Microsoft’s website.

The research is consistent with the results of the recent Parallels SMB Cloud Insight for the United States, 2012 report, which projected that the US market will grow by $9.2 billion over the next three years to reach $24.3 billion in 2014.

“Gone are the days of large enterprises holding the keys to enterprise-class IT and services,” said Marco Limena, vice president of operator channels at 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.”

Fifty-nine percent of companies who are currently using cloud services report significant productivity benefits from IT, compared with just 30 percent of SMBs that are not yet using the cloud.

The report also showed that 63 percent of SMBs using cloud services today expect to grow in sales in the next 12 to 18 months while 55 percent believe technology will power their growth.

SMBs worldwide are embracing cloud services to reap those benefits and stay ahead of competitors, with 50 percent of SMBs saying that cloud computing is going to become more important for their operations, and 58 percent believe working in the cloud can make companies more competitive.

SMBs that adopt cloud computing services want to do more with devices, as the report shows that mobile devices are more essential to current cloud users than email, including productivity and business apps.

One of the more interesting highlights of the report is that only 20 percent of SMBs believe that data is less secure in the cloud than it is in their on-premise systems, proving that security is a priority but no longer a main concern.

Thirty-six percent overall and 49 percent of larger SMBs actually think that data is as secure in the cloud as in their own systems.

Another takeaway from the report is that most SMBs feel it is important to buy services from a provider with a local presence, and 31 percent feel this is critical.

Although many SMBs are interested in the benefits that the cloud can deliver, many are unable to identify which services would be most valuable for them to implement and select a service provider.

More than 60 percent of SMBs said they do not have the resources necessary to implement new technologies and services, and 52 percent do not have the resources to get their employees trained.

This opens up another  significant opportunity for cloud service providers, as they can bridge the knowledge and implementation gap to bring in new business. Some 56 percent of SMBs report a preference toward buying IT and cloud services from a single source.

Many users of Office Live Small Business have recently requested more support from Microsoft in helping them transition to Office 365.

Talk Back: How many cloud services are you currently offering? If you are not currently selling cloud services, has this new research convinced you to consider offering cloud computing services? Let us know in the comments.

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