Stepping into the Cloud: 5 Areas to Get SMBs Started Today
When all of the advertisements and commercials for the cloud started appearing five or six years ago, most SMBs probably did not pay them much attention, thinking they were intended for much larger counterparts. Today, that is no longer the case. Eighty-five percent of SMBs believe cloud solutions can help them scale and grow their businesses faster.
The data certainly corroborates their feelings. SMBs using an above average number of cloud services (2.5 tools) realize 26 percent faster growth and 21 percent higher profitability.
SMBs and Cloud Adoption
But there is a disconnect. Despite such a large percentage of SMBs believing cloud solutions are beneficial, adoption rates are not at those levels. Thirty-seven percent of SMBs in 2014 reported they use at least one cloud solution. And while this number is predicted to grow to 78 percent by 2020, this still leaves a gap of purported believers that have not adopted a cloud technology.
If you are one of those believers who have yet to step into the cloud, this blog post is for you. The first question to ask is where are you at when compared to your peers. Average IT spend for SMBs is between three and five percent. However, for 30 percent of the fastest growth SMBs, spend is over 10 percent. Though investing in IT for the sake of being in a leader quadrant is not justification to do so, you should seriously examine your technology spend and determine if it is set at the right levels.
Though it is a factor in about one-third of instances, cost is not the primary reason SMBs invest in cloud solutions. The biggest reason SMBs cite is flexibility around mobility and remote work. A joint Deloitte-Google study ranks the list in order of priority:
- Mobility and Remote Working, 47%
- Reduced Operating Costs, 38%
- Collaboration, 36%
- Lower Maintenance Requirements, 32%
- Access to Technical Expertise, 27%
- Scalability, 25%
- Avoid Long-Term Contracts, 16%
Collaboration and communications show up at the top of the list for SMB growth leaders: 42 percent cite improved collaboration as their foremost reason for adopting cloud technologies, while 41 percent list improved mobility of their workforce. It thus stands to reason that email (63 percent) and productivity (56 percent) are number one and two in the list of cloud technologies SMBs deploy.
There is certainly valid business justification when it comes to the use of cloud technologies. SMBs delineate various desired business outcomes that include:
- Scale and Growth, 80%
- Access New Markets, 77%
- Focus on Strategic Projects, 75%
- Beat Competitors, 66%
Getting Started with the Cloud
So where do you start when it comes to deciding what cloud solutions will generate the biggest impact to your business. Understanding where you spend your time is a good beginning point. A study by Intuit uncovers the following:
- Back-office work such as bookkeeping and accounting, 65%
- Invoicing and accepting payments, 65%
- Managing relationships with existing customers, 58%
- Communicating with employees and business partners, 48%
- Advertising to build company awareness, 35%
When the different solution options are boiled down to a manageable list, they fall into five basic categories:
- 1. Business Productivity. These applications are focus on the day-to-day productivity tasks such as email, spreadsheets, word processing, instant messaging, and other functions. Cloud technologies here include Google Apps, Office 365, Skype, and others. Nineteen percent of SMBs report using business productivity cloud technologies.
- 2. Infrastructure. Over half of SMBs—up from seven percent in 2011—indicate they use some form of infrastructure or storage technologies from the cloud. Solutions here include cloud storage and file sharing such as Box, Dropbox, among others as well as platform- and infrastructure-as-a-service solutions like Amazon Web Services and the Google Cloud Platform.
- 3. Web and E-Commerce. The majority of SMBs elect to use cloud-based web solutions such as Wix, Web.com, Weebly, and Duda. In addition, numerous cloud e-commerce technology providers make selling online quick and easy, providing functionality that includes web hosting and building, an online storefront and payment processing, inventory management, back-end functionality, marketing tools, and CRM capabilities. Some examples of solutions in this space include Shopify, Magento, and Squarespace.
- 4. Enterprise Applications. Enterprise applications break across finance and operations. Seventeen percent of SMBs report using at least one enterprise application. These include solutions such as Xero and QuickBooks for finance and CRM (customer relationship management) solutions like Insightly, Zoho, Salesforce, and others. Project management and communications tools like Slack, Basecamp, and others are also gaining in popularity with SMBs.
- 5. Prospect-Customer Interactions. Cloud technologies are becoming particularly popular for marketing activities. Twenty-two percent of SMBs indicate they have at least one prospect-customer engagement cloud-based tool. It starts with basic social media monitoring and management tools such as Hootsuite, Social Pilot, or Buffer and extends to marketing automation with solutions such as Infusionsoft, MailChimp, and Constant Contact. It may also include digital engagement tools for live web chat and personalized content offers.
Davinci: Rooted in the Cloud
Since our founding in 2006, Davinci Virtual has relied on various cloud technologies to grow our business. At the same time, our different solutions use a hybrid cloud platform. For example, Davinci Meeting Rooms provides customers with an online booking service that includes billing services and the ability to review and evaluate meeting rooms and day offices before booking them. Our mobile iOS and Android DAVINCI MEET app extends these capabilities to customer smartphones.
Our Live Receptionist services uses the best-in-class LivePerson live web chat, a cloud-based technology, which when combined with our customer service, enables us to deliver outstanding prospect and customer experiences for our clients. We believe in the technology so much that we use it ourselves on our website for sales and customer service.
For more about our solutions, check out our Solution Guides or simply call us, email us, or chat with us.