SMBs slow to adopt cloud-based productivity applications

File sharing is by far the most popular use of cloud services by small businesses but most are sticking to on-premise spreadsheets or word processors, according to new research from IT social network Spiceworks.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

More than 60 percent of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are using or plan to use cloud-based file sharing services, but only 20 percent are considering the cloud for applications such as spreadsheets, word processors, presentation creation and other productivity applications.

That's one of the key findings of a new survey by Spiceworks, an IT professional social network, that was sponsored by high-tech vendor EMC. The Spiceworks research reflects the options of 323 users across North American and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa). 

The Spiceworks poll found that email is also making its way into the cloud quickly, with close to 50 percent of the respondents using some sort of hosted email service.

(An infographic with all the results can be found at the end of this post.)

Spiceworks believes the data is more evidence of the consumerization of technology.

"The two million IT professionals in Spiceworks are managing the transition to cloud computing every day," said Adam Weinroth, executive director of vendor marketing at Spiceworks. "Many of the complex technologies once reserved for IT departments have been simplified, so today's tech-savvy employee can install their own cloud-based applications in minutes."

That, of course, has got many IT departments scrambling.

Here are some other high-level findings to consider:

  • Approximately 33 percent of the companies using cloud-based file-sharing services are do so without explicit permission or selection guidance from the IT team. North American companies were more like to have an approved vendor than their EMEA counterparts. 
  • SMBs perceive the primary advantage of cloud-based file sharing to be accessibility from everywhere, while the primary disadvantage is lack of control around data/security issues.
  • Dropbox was by far the most commonly used file-sharing service, used by 87 percent of the SMB respondents who admitted they were using a service of this type
  • When it comes to cloud-based email, Google's service leads the way, followed by Microsoft Office 365. The primary selection criterion is reliability/24x7 uptime features.
  • 64 percent of the survey respondents are studying cloud-based productivity application options, but aren't sure when (if ever) they will move to adopt them. SMBs are studying two specific options: Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365, the poll found. Currently, Google Apps holds an edge with 48 percent of the mindshare, compared with 43 percent for Office 365.
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