Businesses Looking to Cloud Computing to Enhance Productivity: Report

Midmarket companies are turning to cloud computing to control costs, according to a Fonality survey.

According to a report from Fonality, a provider of cloud-based, VoIP and Unified Communications (UC) solutions for small to medium-size businesses (SMBs), companies are looking to cloud computing to enhance productivity and increase their return on investment (ROI). The "2011 Small and Medium-Sized Business Communications Plans and Priorities" state-of-the-market report polled proficient professionals considered to be on the "leading edge" of technology adoption. Respondents emphasized that cloud-based business applications or AaaS (Anything as a Service) will be increasingly embraced to control costs, and ROI is a key factor in their decision-making.
The survey, conducted by Webtorials, focused on the communications needs of midmarket companies and found ROI of increased productivity from office communications is the most compelling factor in technology adoption, with 88 percent citing "maximizing working capital and/or cash flow" as a major factor in SMB technology decisions.
"Based on the results of this survey, it's clear that SMBs see the value of cloud-based solutions and are eager to benefit from a productivity and ROI perspective," said Fonality president and CEO Dean Mansfield. "Cloud-based communications tools in particular can be leveraged by companies to drive competitive differentiation while maximizing working capital."
Minimizing total cost of ownership is the "ultimate goal" of adopting service-based offerings, according to survey results, while mobility and UC were recognized by a strong majority of those surveyed as key technologies to increase efficiency and profitability. Most respondents saw their current communications solutions as being "good," but 78 percent also seek to improve their capabilities. There was a very high amount of interest in cloud-based solutions and an "excellent prognosis" for cloud-based AaaS (Anything as a Service), with market opportunities still emerging
"The needs of small and mid-size businesses differ significantly from large enterprises," said Steve Taylor, editor-in-chief and publisher for Webtorials, "This study shows that SMBs have a notable disposition to leveraging cloud-based technology to enhance their operations and their communications capabilities in particular."
With responses collected in December 2010 and January 2011, the database used for the survey was highly selective, Mansfield said. While there seemed to be broad consensus on most points regardless of company size, the results presented were limited to respondents indicating that their company employed 11 to 500 people. At the larger end of the scale, the company typically starts to leave the SMB category. The very small companies - those with one to ten employees - were excluded because their communications solutions tend to mirror consumer-based solutions.
"SMBs are clearly caught between minimizing and controlling their cost of operations and improving their technological advantage within their companies as well as for their customers," the report concluded "They are aware of cloud-based technologies and know that they can improve their operations through enhancement of their technology. They know they need improvement in their internal and external communication methods."