SMBs Embrace Cloud-Based Business Apps: Survey

By Gina Roos  |  Print this article Print
SMB cloud

SMBs are adopting cloud-based file-sharing, email and productivity services to help balance IT needs with workers' needs to access info 24/7 from anywhere.

Small and midsized businesses (SMBs) continue to adopt cloud-based applications as a way to meet their IT requirements and their employees' need to access information from anywhere at any time, according to a new study conducted by Spiceworks Voice of IT market insights program.

The survey also finds that both companies and their employees play a role in the selection of most services. Employee favorites include Dropbox, Google Apps, Citrix GoToMeeting and Evernote.

The report, "Catching up to the Cloud: Steady Migration Into Cloud-based File Sharing, Email and Productivity Services," sponsored by LogMeIn, a provider of cloud-based connectivity services, indicates that SMBs are making big moves to cloud-based file-sharing, email and productivity services. While these solutions reduce IT management issues, lower costs and are easier to use, the study finds that IT professionals have security and compliance concerns.

"The survey results show that cloud-based services continue to be an integral way employees access information, communicate and collaborate during their work day," Kathryn Pribish, Voice of IT program manager at Spiceworks, Austin, Texas, said in a statement. "Over the last year, we've seen that more companies are taking notice and formally adopting solutions that meet the ease of use and accessibility demands of their employees while maintaining corporate security, cost and compliance requirements."

The survey reveals that hosted email deployments are set to surpass on-premise deployments over the next six months. Hosted email deployments grew from 42 percent last year to 46 percent, with another 5 percent planning to migrate over the next six months. In comparison, on-premise deployments fell from 52 percent last year to 49 percent.

Microsoft Office 365 is making gains among SMBs, although Google still is the leader in hosted email deployments, according to the survey. Office 365 usage nearly doubled over the last year from 16 percent to 30 percent, while Google usage fell 2 percentage points to 32 percent.

The study finds that cloud-based file sharing is one of the biggest services that employees use on their own. Fifty percent of IT respondents said employees are using file-sharing services on their own, which is up 17 percentage points from last year. Dropbox is the leading vendor, with 93 percent of their employees using the service.

In comparison, vendor preference is mixed for the 24 percent of respondents with a company-approved file-sharing service. Dropbox leads at 40 percent, up from 28 percent last year, followed by Google Apps at 24 percent and Box at 10 percent. The survey also shows that approved solutions grew 5 percentage points from last year's level. Their biggest concerns when selecting a file-sharing service: security/compliance, accessibility and cost.

Driven by the availability of high-speed Internet access, the survey finds that SMB IT departments are embracing the use of Web conferencing to connect remote teams. Case in point: 51 percent of IT respondents said they have an approved vendor or will have one approved over the next six months, of which 49 percent use Cisco WebEX. Vendor preference is split between Cisco WebEx and Citrix GoToMeeting for employees who are using Web conferencing on their own.

SMBs are leveraging collaboration tools. Thirty percent of IT respondents have an approved collaboration tool or plan to deploy one over the next six months. The leading vendors include Evernote, used by 41 percent, and Basecamp, used by 19 percent.

Employees who use collaboration tools on their own also prefer Evernote, with 76 percent using the tool, followed by Basecamp, at 15 percent, and Zoho Projects, at 5 percent.

SMBs are also big adopters of cloud-based productivity, with 48 percent currently using or planning to use these apps over the next six months. Vendor preference is mixed. Respondents who said their employees are using these apps on their own prefer Google Apps. Seventy percent said employees are using Google apps, compared with 41 percent who prefer Office 365.

Survey results were based on responses from more than 500 global respondents across a variety of industries, including manufacturing, education, IT service providers, health care, retail and government.

Originally published on www.eweek.com.