Is 2010 the year SMEs Fully Embrace Cloud Computing?

The Cloud is coming; but are SMEs ready?

Commentary on the research results from Chris Stening, managing director, Easynet Connect

When we conducted this research towards the end of 2008, we saw that the cloud was coming for SMEs. While not quite as fast as vendors would hope, it was certainly coming. By the end of 2010, half of SMEs in the UK will be using cloud computing in some form or another. This is a complete reversal from just over a year ago when nearly the same proportion (53%) said they would never adopt the cloud. Either businesses have changed their minds very quickly or the benefits of cloud computing are more clear than they were. I expect it is a combination of both. Either way, this is still a phenomenal turnaround.

The next challenge is for SMEs to ensure they have a formal strategy in place for adopting the cloud. While today’s installations may not be entirely critical to the business, it is only a matter of time before the core business functions, which typically run on off-the-shelf spreadsheets and databases today, are migrated to cloud platforms. The success of Salesforce (a cloud based CRM) is one such example of how business-critical functions can so readily migrate to the cloud. With more core applications moving this way, SMEs need to ensure they cover all the bases – can their existing internet connection cope with the additional bandwidth demands? Is their ISP reliable enough? Do they have a backup line if their main one fails? How secure are the cloud services they’re using?

In 2009 we moved some of our most critical CRM and support systems into the cloud to help us in our drive to deliver first class customer service. With a cloud-based solution there is less strain on internal systems and installing updates and tailoring the platform happens much more quickly and easily than systems managed in-house. It has dramatically helped us improve the way we work, giving us a single view of our customers and improving our customer response times and first time fix rates. For us, moving into the cloud was a big move which is certainly paying off.

Preparation is key for any business undertaking such a radical change to their operations. You wouldn’t, for example, relocate your offices to another country without first checking out the local tax regimes, regulatory frameworks, workforce quality etc. The same is true for businesses migrating to the cloud.

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