Technology

SMEs still missing out on the big cloud dream

Andrew Sadauskas /

Around three-in-five businesses are missing out on the productivity and other benefits available through cloud computing, according to a report published by the Grattan Institute this week.

According to the report, over 40% of businesses using cloud-based services cite the ability to work from any location as a key benefit.

Meanwhile, over 20% of businesses cite the ability to work remotely, fewer IT issues and data security as being key benefits of cloud-based services.

Other key benefits cited by businesses include the direct link between software and other online data, the reduced cost of software and service, and improved flexibility.

Across the Australian economy, Grattan Institute estimates the benefits from increased cloud adoption could add between $2 billion and $3 billion per year to the national GDP (gross domestic product).

Despite the benefits, the report notes that many businesses are yet to unlock the potential of cloud computing, with one survey showing as much as 59% of SMEs are still unaware of, or unsure about, cloud services.

Aside from a lack of knowledge and awareness, other roadblocks for businesses include a lack of skills in transitioning to the cloud, concerns about being ‘locked-in’ to providers, privacy concerns, and poor network quality.

While Australian small businesses were found to be more willing to adopt cloud-based services than their peers in other OECD nations, adoption rates are lower for SMEs than for large firms.

Grattan Institute productivity growth program director and report author Jim Minifie told SmartCompany small businesses that haven’t followed the trend risk missing out.

“SMEs not currently aware of how IT has changed over the past few years should really start paying attention,” says Minifie.

“Online innovation isn’t dead, and in fact the current crop of technology can facilitate SMEs to innovate at lower costs,” he says.

Minifie says the set-up costs for cloud-based services are a lot lower than some SMEs think.

“You can now find a cloud service provider for the whole value chain, from supply management to internal management and customer relationship management (CRM),” says Minifie.

“The fundamental proposition is that it allows sophisticated enterprise IT-level services in bit-sized chunks,” he says.

Aside from improved efficiency and quality of services, the cloud potentially opens up new growth opportunities for businesses

“There are new opportunities to differentiate yourself from your competitors and capture new markets,” says Minifie. “You can combine cloud services as part of new product offerings.”

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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