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Early results from IT research firm AMI-Partners’ World Wide Cloud
Services study indicated small to medium-size businesses are
rapidly adopting a variety of cloud services consistent with their
stated intentions over the past 12-18 months. The study concluded with
the economic situation still in a state of flux particularly across
North America and Europe, cloud services are well positioned as a
cost-effective strategy that not only reduces costs but also enables
greater SMB agility.

The study confirms CRM (customer relationship management), payroll,
accounting/financials and Web-conferencing tend to be the leading
applications currently used in the cloud. Preliminary research also
indicated adoption intentions remain strong for CRM, BI (Business
Intelligence) and Web/video conferencing for the next 12 months.
“Notably, there is also growing interest in using cloud-based
productivity suites, along with bundling additional value-added
components such as security, storage and wireless broadband access,”
the report stated.

Total cloud-related ICT spending among SMBs worldwide exceeded $52
billion in 2009, representing about 6 percent of total worldwide SMB
information and communications technology spending, according to
AMI research. “By 2014 we expect this to exceed $95 billion,” said
Deepinder Sahni, AMI’s senior vice president for global sizing and
segmentation. “[That’s] about 11 percent of total worldwide SMB ICT
spending, indicative of a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13
percent.”

RMITS (remote managed IT services), SAAS and Web/video conferencing are
the highest-growth components within the cloud, with more than 20
percent CAGR each, AMI research discovered. “The SMB ICT landscape will
get a makeover during the next 5-7 years, as new entrants and new
services claim a piece of the total ICT spending pie,” Sahni said. “In
several instances we are seeing SMBs adding new ICT capabilities (and
expanding the total spending pie) because the cloud makes them more
affordable and easy to deploy, especially CRM.”

Sahni said in the case of fairly simple bread-and-butter solutions and
processes, including a variety of managed IT services, the cloud
essentially acts as a replacement mechanism driving costs lower.
“Incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) and competitive local
exchange carriers (CLECs) have a strong opportunity to reposition and
be viewed as a ‘trusted ICT partner’ among U.S. SMBs if they can create
compelling services bundles and deliver these in a highly reliable
fashion,” he said.

SMB preferences for cloud-based application bundles, their price
sensitivity and purchase channel preferences are further explored in
AMI’s upcoming Worldwide SMB Cloud Services Study. This study provides
coverage of: platforms and devices, IT infrastructure services,
business productivity applications, business
management/line-of-business applications and unified communications.
The company said the research would be available later in 2010.