Best Argument: No
Vital in this economy
The cloud is the best thing to happen to small businesses since, well, since a long time ago. Software as a Service allows businesses to scale quickly and pull back in truly flexible ways that are vital in a post-recession economy and allow even the smallest of businesses to build international reach and access markets growing far faster than those in developed economies. Countless service providers have built their own businesses around managing cloud deployments, allowing many SMBs to set aside the hassle and expense of capital IT expenditures and management of on-premise technologies.
Although SMBs clearly need to be able to "talk tech", they don't need to do everything themselves anymore and certainly don't need to devote significant time or capital expense to technology issues. Rather, the cloud and related services allow businesses to focus on strategic maneuvers and the use of technology to advance their businesses.
IT become more strategic
Small companies should absolutely replace certain on-premise applications and infrastructure with cloud-delivered services. But that doesn’t mean they can cede every nuance of IT strategy to someone outside the company.
The bigger your company, the bigger the chances it must manage a hybrid IT environment that includes some on-premise technologies and some cloud-delivered services. That will require IT experts who can keep these hybrid environments running smoothly. It doesn't matter whether you tap an outside expert or someone in-house, you'll still need to assign someone to manage this function.
That's because SMBs will need to someone to provide holistic view of their IT infrastructure – regardless of where it lives. They will need someone to make sure things are working together and to address situations when there isn’t a seamless experience or when things break outright.
Certainly SMBs will be freed from many burdens of IT management, if they choose a cloud approach. If anything, that will elevate IT management to an even more strategic role within the company.
We're not ready yet
Without a doubt, cloud-based services are indeed replacing many of the traditional on-premise services that require more hands-on IT administration. In some cases, it certainly is possible (and maybe even a good idea) to move an entire SMB to the cloud. But for the vast majority of us there are still too many concerns to actually make it feasible without some sort of in-house expertise if for no other reason than strategic, business, and technical decision making.
While there are certainly many benefits in terms of reducing costs, converting CapEx to OpEx, simplified backup and recovery, providing new services, etc., many important concerns remain regarding the ultimate command-and-control of business technology and information.
The Internet (a.k.a. the cloud) is not quite as ubiquitous as electricity or telephones just yet and until that's the case, it probably isn't prudent to think of cloud services the same way we think of utilities. The business-critical nature of information management simply demands much more oversight and strategic thinking which in-turn requires more than a tactical understanding of the business.
In this case, as in so many others, there's a big difference between what we can do and what we should do. In other words, as much as I want to agree with Chris's point of view, I don't think we're there just yet and I have to declare Heather the winner. Obviously, most of this audience agrees.