Cloud has silver lining for SMEs, when they can reach it

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bit520 sm cloud has silver lining for smes when they can reach it
Cloud computing brings tangible benefits to Australia's small and medium businesses but inadequate Internet access services are preventing them from taking full advantage of cloud. That's what accounting software company MYOB's latest survey of SMEs has uncovered.

For six years MYOB has undertaken a quarterly national survey of Australia's business owners and directors. It is designed to uncover their perceptions of current and future performance of business in Australia, their views on the outlook for the Australian economy and on Federal and State Government support for business in Australia.

The latest survey of 1000 small to medium businesses, the results of which will be published in full in June, found 46 percent of them using cloud computing services, an increase of nine percentage points in six months. It also found that 24 percent of businesses surveyed were dissatisfied with the speed of their Internet connection and 23 percent were unhappy with the cost.

It's not uncommon for people to want things to be cheaper but dissatisfaction with speed is a bigger issue, because the survey also found very tangible benefits from cloud computing, the use of which needs good Internet access. Almost half (47 percent) of survey respondents said they believed that being connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN) would make a positive impact to their business.

"Twenty seven percent of SMEs using cloud computing saw their revenue increase in the last 12 months compared to 20 percent of non-cloud users," MYOB said. "Cloud users are also more likely to expect revenue to increase in the year ahead (39 percent), compared to 27 percent of non-cloud users."

What the MYOB survey likely shows more than an increase in the uptake of cloud is a greater understanding by SMEs of what cloud is.

If they use email or have a web site, they are almost certainly using cloud services. According to a Grattan Institute survey of early 2014: "Few Australian SME managers use the term 'cloud computing': only eight percent say they use the cloud. But 47 percent of SMEs with an Internet connection use basic cloud computing services such as webmail or cloud data storage."

The Institute also identified many benefits of cloud for SMEs. "Cloud computing allows smaller firms to access sophisticated IT services that were previously out of reach. Cloud computing services make it easier for small firms with good new ideas to take them to market. Firms that use cloud computing report more growth in revenue and profit than others do."

However, Grattan also identified barriers to uptake. "Many Australian SMEs do not use cloud services. Many are not aware of the benefits or believe they lack the skills to capture them. Some are concerned about transition costs, data security and privacy. Networks are too slow or unreliable for cloud services in some areas."

According to Jorge Villalpando, Enterprise Sales & Marketing Manager at Alexelera, IT is essential to enable companies to change and continue to be profitable.  “Small to mid-size businesses that do not rise to the challenge of change will be lagging behind their competitors and eventually cease to exist,” he said.

“As Forrester noted in its State of Digital Business in Asia Pacific report last year, ‘CIOs who ignore the impact of digital disruption do so at their own peril. The only way to weather dynamic industry changes is to incorporate systems that help your organisation win, serve, and retain customers’.”

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