Mobile Business Apps Bring Cloud Computing Closer to SMBs: AMI Report

Businesses are looking to service providers of smartphones and tablets to offer solutions with mobile devices, AMI said.

The use of smartphones and tablet PCs by U.S. small to medium-size businesses-businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees-is experiencing tremendous growth, according to a report from IT analytics firm AMI-Partners. The company cited nearly 3.5 million U.S. SMBs that are currently using smartphones and 700,000 using tablet PCs.

In the next 12 months, AMI estimates that the number of SMBs owning these devices will increase by 40 percent and 85 percent, respectively. The report concluded that the success of Apple's iPhone, iPad and similar Android devices has spurred this charge, and the adoption en masse drives a larger demand for more specialized, business-focused mobile apps.

"The current generation of workers is never without their mobile devices. These workers already use mobile devices to email and browse the Web," said Prashanth Motupalli, survey research analyst at AMI. "But they are now looking for more sophisticated business applications while not in the office. This opportunity means much more than spreadsheets and documents."

These mobile apps are fueled by data that live in the cloud. The report noted that it is "no surprise" that their adoption is analogous to what AMI has observed with the cloud: U.S. SMBs have been adopting cloud services to meet a wide variety of business needs, starting with basic communication, that, over time, has led to advanced, analytics-based applications.

"Similarly, early success within mobile apps was driven by communication applications such as email and IM. Future growth for mobile apps is expected to meet more sophisticated business needs," Motupalli said. "These applications have become -must haves' for this generation of workers, which is -always on.'"

AMI researchers said U.S. SMBs are looking to service providers of smartphones and tablets to offer solutions with the mobile devices to meet this need, either out of the box or as a quick, headache-free add-on, and therefore productivity suites will be the next applications to experience high growth. However, as the mobile needs of U.S. SMBs continue to evolve, more specialized mobile applications, such CRM and analytics, will likely be next to gain mainstream adoption.

The company's 2011 U.S. SMB Cloud Playbook - Strategic and Tactical GTM Planning Guide provides a tactical framework for architecting cloud-based services offerings to meet the growing demand for cloud services "bundles" and a perspective on cloud-related dynamics shaping up in the SMB space, including cloud-related needs among four types of SMB segments, behavioral and usage characteristics, and future adoption plans.

The report also includes information on cloud and ICT spending, market opportunity, price sensitivity, service bundling preferences and demand uplift, vendor value propositions and offers/bundles and purchase channel mix and capabilities.