What drives businesses to the cloud? Cloud storage vendor SugarSync attempted to answer this question by polling 173 small businesses on what makes them want to adopt cloud file management. The survey involved business owners, as well as IT and other business leaders for smaller organizations. You can read the detailed findings in this entry on the company’s official blog.
Many trends that start off in the nimbler and more flexible small businesses are often a precursor of things to come in mid-sized or even large businesses. With this in mind, I surmised a few of the most pertinent findings as well as give my thoughts on how SMBs can best leverage cloud storage below.
Proliferation of multiple devices
Small business users are not abandoning laptops and desktops for new smartphones and tablets, according to Lance Kass, Internet marketing operations manager at SugarSync. Rather, tablets and smartphones have taken a complementary role where they are often used simultaneously with traditional computing devices. Indeed, SugarSync discovered that small business owners and leaders are actively using an average of five devices. (Some respondents reported as many as 12 devices apparently, according to SugarSync).
Clearly, the cloud has a role in the proliferation of multiple device usage by making it easy for users to access the same files from any Internet-connected device. With sales of smartphones and tablets skyrocketing, SMBs need to come up with a long-term strategy on how to support workers who may need to access corporate services and files from mobile devices.
Users derive real value from the cloud
Though once seen as a fad, it is evident that users are deriving real value from the use of cloud storage. Specifically, the survey saw 90 percent of respondents listing file and folder synchronization as “Very Important.” About 85 percent also put data backup under this category, while 90 percent of respondents consider the ability to share files and folders with colleagues as important.
The implications to SMBs are clear: An outright ban on cloud services will probably not succeed and is likely to impede productivity. Instead, security-conscious businesses will need to look into offering private-cloud alternatives to support workers and meet their file sharing and collaboration needs.
Mobility and new work style
Given that the survey was conducted by a cloud storage vendor, it should probably be unsurprising that the company’s “set it and forget it” approach was touted by a majority (75 percent) of respondents as a lifesaver. Still, it is undeniable that the increased mobility and changing working style of workers can only serve to accelerate the adoption of cloud services.
On this front, SMBs need to acknowledge that legacy backup utilities or making manual backup copies is no longer cutting it for modern workers. Instead, they should consider automated backup software at a minimum, or explore software that works by synchronizing data over the Internet, preferably those that save multiple revisions of files.
On a broader front, does your SMB have a strategy to support tablets and smartphones on top of traditional laptops and desktops? I’ll be outlining some simple tips later this week. In the meantime, do feel free to drop a comment if this is a topic that you are currently grappling with.