Small and medium businesses have heard the words “cloud computing” continually bandied about over recent years but it appears SMEs are now starting to see real benefits from moving to the cloud.
That’s one of the key findings in SmartCompany’s 2016 Technology Survey, sponsored by Adobe, which asked more than 500 Australian businesses how they use technology.
Almost three quarters of the businesses surveyed use cloud computing services and another 8% of respondents said they plan to start using cloud services in the future.
This compares to the 2014 survey when 67.5% of SMEs reported using cloud services, and the 2013 survey, when 56% of businesses had adopted cloud computing practices.
The majority of these businesses say cloud computing gives them greater flexibility (58%) and allows them to be more agile (54%). Using cloud services also helps these businesses be more cost-effective (44%) and grow or scale their venture (37%).
A greater adoption of cloud-based technology appears to sit hand-in-hand with a healthy appetite among businesses to increase their investment in technology, with only 12% of respondents saying they have no plans to invest in any form of technology over the next 12 months.
More than half of respondents (54%) plan to invest in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) over the coming year, while 38% plan to devote resources to collaboration tools.
Thirty-two percent of respondents expect to purchase new hardware in the next 12 months and 20% are looking at spending money on workforce management tools.
But while these businesses are seeing value in refining the way they use and spend money on tech, getting the most out of their websites remains a challenge.
Close to 90% of the respondents have a company website, but 55% believe they are not using their website as effectively as they could.
Another 15% are unsure about if they are getting the most out of their website, while 27% believe they are using their website to the best of their ability.
Almost 50% of respondents choose to outsource their website maintenance, while website updates are happening infrequently. Sixty percent of respondents update their website every six months, 15% do so yearly, and 6% have not updated their website since it launched.
The majority of the survey respondents live in capital cities along the east coast of Australia and work in professional services, financial services and technology-based firms.
Most are business owners or chief executives, with a quarter of respondents either general or department managers.
Small businesses with fewer than nine employees make up the largest group of respondents (36%), followed by businesses with up to 99 employees (28%), and businesses with between 100 and 500 employees (11%).
Most of the businesses surveyed are turning over less than $5 million annually, with 22% turning over less than $200,000. Another 27% report their annual turnover to be above $5 million.
For the full survey results, download the free 2016 Technology Survey ebook, available now.