Microsoft Corporation just released the results of a new research project on the use of cloud services by small- and mid-sized business. According to the survey results, 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.
Over 3,000 businesses in 13 countries participated in the survey. In reviewing the results there are a few things that immediately grabbed my attention. The businesses identified cost savings, faster and better integration of information to virtually any device and significant increases in productivity from IT for cloud users. In fact, 59% of the companies that use cloud services said information technology made their businesses more productive, twice as many as those who are not yet using the cloud. This is a strong indicator that cloud can fulfill on its promise to businesses to deliver enterprise quality services to small business and do it cost effectively.
The really good news is a majority, 63% of companies using cloud services, expect their sales to grow in the next 12 to 18 months and better than half of them believe cloud technology will help drive their growth. More than half of the businesses surveyed think working in the cloud can make companies more competitive.
The research results should send a clear message to managed services providers (MSPS) and value added resellers (VARS). SMBs need help. Many small businesses lack the resources to select the right services for their business, to implement the services and to train their staff. An average of 56% said they don’t have either the resources or time to get the job done. Fifty-six percent also reported a preference to work with a single source when purchasing multiple cloud services. They also indicated a desire to work with a local company. All of this adds up to opportunity for MSPS and VARS.
The problem is that of all the sources listed by SMBs as the places they were getting help with the cloud, the sales representative from their local service provider ranked second to last from a list of nine sources. That fact alone should send a message to the reseller channel that it is not responding appropriately to the cloud services opportunity and the needs of an ever increasing number of customers.