Less than half of Australian small businesses are currently taking advantage of cloud services, according to a report developed by Ovum and commissioned by NBN Co.
The report, SME cloud-based services: Overseas successes and Australian opportunities, showed that the uptake of cloud services by SMEs has been slow compared to consumers, with 44 percent of SMEs actively using cloud services, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority's (ACMA) report into cloud computing.
But when looking into what applications SMEs are running in the cloud, it is only basic ones such as email, web hosting, and storage, instead of shifting to a cloud-based business model with applications and tools for marketing, collaboration, and data security.
Despite this, the report indicated that the demand for cloud services has been growing for several years. It cited that Frost and Sullivan estimated that the total value of the country's cloud computing market in 2013 was at AU$1.23 billion, and was projected to grow AU$54.55 billion by 2018.
Ovum noted that in late 2013, it surveyed 200 Australian medium-sized enterprises to find out what specific kinds of services were most likely to interest them. It found that by looking at the three main classes of cloud services -- infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS) -- the businesses mainly favoured SaaS.
The report further suggested that Australian SMEs' access to fast broadband through the National Broadband Network (NBN) will enable small businesses to better embrace cloud computing.
The report also identified the Australian small business market as a significant opportunity for internet service providers (ISPs) and telecommunications service providers to offer new end-to-end cloud products and packages as the NBN rollout gathers momentum.
Ovum research director David Kennedy said access to the latest technologies powered by fast broadband will be vital in helping Australian businesses remain competitive in the global digital economy.
"The NBN rollout will allow businesses of all sizes to discover a host of new products and tools, no matter where they are located, and without the need for in-house specialist skills," he said.
Kennedy added: "We believe the next year will see a range of new competitive packages and products being offered to small business owners to help them better leverage the benefits of fast broadband and cloud applications."