How expensive is it to adopt cloud technology? Will it take long? Will my employees understand it? Is my data secure? Does it really make a difference?
These are the types of questions asked by small business owners that can deter them from making the leap from in-house services to more sophisticated software that can be used for virtually any aspect of running a business, from payroll to inventory management to cash flow visibility.
But new research suggests that collectively, these benefits lead not only to cost savings, but to higher revenue – and SMEs ignoring the cloud are leaving that cash behind.
Many Small Benefits
The Small Business Cloud Barometer 2015, published last week by Exact in conjunction with Pb7 Research, witnessed an array of reasons behind small businesses’ decisions to make the leap to cloud-based software. Many of them directly address the anxieties experienced by SMEs deterred from the cloud: boosted security, lower IT maintenance costs, and greater efficiency and productivity for end-users.
Once these tools are implemented, SMEs report that the cloud is easy to use, makes it easier for employees to search for and find information, leads to increased productivity, and makes it easier for admin to add or remove users.
Exact analysis found a host of untapped benefits when it comes to the cloud in B2B operations. For example, the survey found that just 17 percent of wholesalers are using the cloud to get automated alerts when inventory is low. Only 28 percent said they had access to real-time inventory levels and delivery statuses.
Data search and administrative benefits like inventory management and adding/removing program users may not seem like much, and certainly aren’t exciting. But the analysis reveals that collectively, these benefits generate big bucks.
According to Exact, small businesses that use cloud technologies realize 25 percent higher revenue growth than their non-cloud peers, and can double their profits. Plus, researchers found a positive correlation between cloud use and financial gain – the most cloud-based software packages use, the stronger an SME’s business performance.
The adoption of cloud technology by small- and medium-sized enterprises may be slow, but it is showing promising growth. Exact found that more than half of SMEs in the U.S. use at least some cloud-based service – the most out of any other jurisdiction on the planet, with U.K. SMEs coming in at a close second.
With top-cited benefits like improved search function or automated stock alerts, it may not come as a surprise that not every SME is convinced that the benefits of cloud technology are worth taking the risk of onboarding these tools.
Indeed, Exact’s study suggests that small businesses are not on the fence about the cloud – they are either for it, or against it. For instance, while improved security was cited as the No. 1 reason that SMEs that use cloud technology decided to adopt it in the first place, security is also cited as the No. 1 reason why SMEs that don’t use cloud technology refuse to adopt it.
But with so many B2B SMEs responding that cost-saving is their highest priority – 53 percent of wholesalers and manufacturers place it as their top concern – they may want to look at the bigger picture of the cloud, as presented by Exact: A bunch of small improvements in work efficiency can go a long way on the small business balance sheet.