As technology becomes an increasingly important part of conducting business, companies are starting to hone in on what really works and what doesn't. A growing number of small and medium-sized businesses are realizing that one technology that is worth their time is cloud computing. Cloud computing essentially democratizes business technology, reducing costs and increasing ease-of-use. The cloud makes it cheaper and easier to start a business or create a new product, as well as providing access to technology and capabilities that were once solely the domain of large companies.
Because of the benefits offered by the cloud, more and more small businesses are adopting it. A recent study on SMB cloud use projected the global market for cloud services to expand to $95 billion over the next year and SMB Group estimates the number of small and medium-sized businesses using cloud computing will grow to 44 percent by 2015.
"I think eventually every business has to have somewhere in its portfolio and go-to-market approach a range of cloud services," said IBM Midmarket Business General Manager John Mason in an interview with Forbes. "This is changing the landscape for small and midsize businesses by allowing them to focus on their own innovations and making them more competitive with larger, established companies."
Mason went on to say that the cloud, along with other innovative business tools, has three distinct impacts on SMBs.
- It makes it possible for companies to go to market with products much quicker by removing large, upfront investments in technology and personnel.
- Cloud dramatically increases scalability and allows for greater flexibility.
- It removes geographic strains holding organizations back and offers the ability to work collaboratively with anyone from anywhere.
Reasons for cloud use vary, but all find benefits
A new report conducted by Intuit and Emergent Research has also highlighted the benefits the cloud offers SMBs, as well as some of the driving factors behind why companies are adopting the technology.
"Today, the U.S. and global economy is going through a series of shifts and changes that are reshaping the economic landscape," said Steve King, a partner at Emergent Research, in an interview with Small Business Trends. " In this new landscape, many people are using the power of the cloud to re-imagine the idea of small business and create new, innovative models that work for their needs."
The study projected that 78 percent of small business will have adopted a cloud platform over the next six years. Research from the two companies also found specific types of cloud use among SMBs. Hives, for instance, are small businesses that are able to work together through the cloud and rarely meet in person. Another group, plug-in players, are organizations that utilize cloud services to handle back-end tasks so they are able to stay focused on tasks and processes that are more critical to the business. This group implements solutions such as cloud storage services and applications for accounting, marketing or human resources.