The findings of the new research among Vistage members, focused on cloud use and based on responses from 439 CEOs, MDs and owners of SME businesses, reflect the dynamism, adaptability and operational agility of SME sector. Vistage (www.vistage.co.uk) is Britain’s largest (over 800 members) and oldest peer-to-peer mentoring organisation for SME owners and recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Key findings in July 2014
· Just under half (49 per cent) of small and mid-sized businesses who are members of Vistage are now using cloud services, with 11 per cent planning to invest in the cloud in the near future. However, nearly a quarter (24 per cent) are not making use of or planning to use of the cloud.
· Flexibility and easy access to company data are considered as key benefits of the cloud for SMEs. In both cases, 45 per cent of respondents consider them as main advantages of cloud systems. The third most important benefit of the cloud (for 28 per cent of respondents) is its superiority over the traditional systems in case of disaster recovery.
· 36 per cent of survey respondents say that the main reason for using or planning to move to the cloud is to assist their mobile flexible workforce. For 21 per cent, the cloud is also a tool for accessing new systems. A fifth of respondents (20 per cent) say that it enables access to new products and services and for 21 per cent it is a tool for greater automation.
· Almost a quarter (22 per cent) of smaller businesses expect the cloud to bring them cost savings, particularly capital expenditure savings in relation to IT function. In fact, Gartner reports that companies are already allocating almost a third of existing IT budgets to cloud services.
· Over a third (34 per cent) of SMEs use the cloud for CRM or for contact management. Almost the same percentage (32 per cent) utilise it for web hosting. A further 28 per cent use the cloud for storing work documents and standard office systems.
· Cloud services are becoming an integral part of smaller businesses’ standard work systems. In response to the question of how the cloud affected the company’s overall business strategy, 39 per cent of respondents say that ‘our strategy has changed very little/not at all’. A further 22 per cent confirm that their strategy ‘changed somewhat’ because of the cloud.
Steve Gilroy, CEO of Vistage, said, ‘Our research shows the cloud has clearly moved out of the realm of novelty in the mid-sized business sector. Britain’s mittelstand business owners have wholeheartedly adopted cloud services and use them not only for web hosting but also for their CRM and contact management, and are now starting to use cloud based systems to enable a more mobile and flexible workforce.’