The trends suggest that Enterprises have shown better Cloud adoption than the SMBs (Small and Medium Businesses). However, the way Enterprises have adopted cloud computing solutions, differs significantly from how SMBs have done it.
According to a 2016 cloud computing survey by IDG Enterprises; while Enterprises spend more on Infrastructure as a Service(IaaS), SMBs are better at adopting Software as a Service (SaaS); and while Enterprises prefer to host their infrastructure on a Private Cloud, the SMBs are less hesitant in moving to Public Cloud. Clearly, cost plays an important role in dictating these behaviors. Cost is an important factor for a smaller business or any business for that matter, and the Cloud provides SMBs an option to pay on a subscription model instead of making huge upfront investments, thus bringing state of the art applications and infrastructure within affordable range.
Smaller businesses who are better at cloud adoption significantly improve their chances of competing with larger Enterprises. Following are the top 3 cloud computing adoption areas that will help the SMBs run and compete with their Enterprise competitors.
IT process automation (ITPA) helps in automating operational process for software and networks, by interacting with infrastructure elements such as hardware, database and applications.
By Implementing ITPA SMBs can benefit by
Lets take an example of IT Monitoring solutions, which can be considered IT process automation. There is a range of tools now available through the Cloud for IT managers for both Enterprises and SMBs to implement easily and monitor their network, equipment, servers and database easily. They can easily set rules and receive notification if their resources are under or over utilized or there is a potential threat.
While primarily aimed at IT managers to use, some of these tools (e.g. Cloudradar.io) are so simple, they can be used by anyone with little technical know-how and thus releasing talented resources from non-productive and repetitive work.
Common belief is that implementing IT process automation is expensive and beyond reach for SMBs. In the age of the Cloud, nothing could be far from the truth.
In the above example of IT Monitoring domain itself, there is a range of providers like Solarwinds (has a SaaS offering in Pingdom Server Monitor) which offers solutions across the board but seems more focused on Enterprise, and providers like Cloudradar.io which is completely SaaS and offers enterprise level solutions starting at as low as $10.50 per month for a single user.
Software as a service is the cloud computing model that has seen the most enthusiastic response by the SMBs. Giants like Google and Microsoft are driving this model through their Google Apps and Office365 offerings. In the pre-SAAS era using Exchange based emails was a distant dream for smaller businesses and installing and monitoring the MS Office licenses needed upfront investment.
With Office365, Microsoft has completely changed their game and has given SMBs access to the same tools that in the past, only Enterprises could afford and manage (e.g. Exchange and Sharepoint).
Someone can own an enterprise level email experience and tons of Cloud storage from Microsoft at as little as $6 / month per person. However, the cost adds up if you want more applications and if the number of users in your organization increase. That’s when considering something like Bitrix24, that packs in unlimited storage, pre-packaged Intranet solutions (much easier than Sharepoint to implement and yet very powerful) and a very effective CRM solution all within $300 / month for unlimited users! Most providers offer online CRM as a separate offering and don’t club it in with their more commonly used suite of applications, but not Bitrix24. It really empowers the SMBs streamline their processes without having to burn a hole in their pockets.
Worth mentioning are Freshbook, Zoho and Intuit’s QuickBook Online which have revolutionized how businesses keep their books. Why use spreadsheets to manage your accounting when you have a professional bookkeeping app online that is easy to manage and maintain; and; doesn’t cost a fortune.
One of the key deciding factors for the success of an organization is the people that work for it. Access to expert and talented workforce was limited to large enterprises which had huge budgets to hire and sustain a talented team by paying huge remuneration. Apart from remuneration it was also brand association that employees cared about. However, working for an Enterprise didn’t necessarily mean exciting work for these talented lot.
Cloud, by enabling easy collaboration has empowered highly qualified specialist to work remotely and have the flexibility of working on per-project basis, and while the SMBs couldn’t afford to hire a full-time specialist and sustain them on a permanent basis, they are much better off at hiring someone for a critical function on a temporary basis. This gives them the power of having access to the same level of talent as their Enterprise counterparts (sometimes even better, as many talented specialists love the flexibility and a chance to work for an exciting project, despite the size of the company).
These are exciting times to be a Small and Medium Business. Never before did SMBs were better equipped for success than now. With better cloud adoption they now stand a chance of disrupting their space and making a mark for themselves despite the overbearing presence of huge Enterprises as competitors.