Last week I was invited to take part in The Guardian Small Business Network's Live Q&A session on cloud computing for small business. It's really great to see so much lively and open debate in the mainstream media about cloud computing and what it means for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs). Thanks to discussions like this the possibilities in terms of business efficiency, simplicity, cost savings and convenience are becoming clearer to all.
The subject of cloud-based business applications is becoming better understood every day. Many small firms are already familiar with things like Dropbox for sharing files, Salesforce.com for customer relationship management or even Skype for phone calls but until now they never thought of them as cloud.
Analyst firm Freeform Dynamics writing in Computer Weekly this past February says while their own research shows strong initial uptake of cloud services among SMBs, around 70 percent believe they won't be migrating completely to the cloud any time soon, if ever.
The key message here is that we should not expect cloud-based services to replace on-premise computing wholesale. Instead SMBs will subscribe to the ones that make the most sense to them in terms of functionality, cost and convenience.
Small businesses have always looked to their local computer contractors whom they know and trust to advise them which software is best suited to their needs. Freeform Dynamics concludes that the major cloud players who are most successful at encouraging cloud services adoption among SMBs will be those that work closely with their channel partners to support the full range of customer needs.
I couldn't agree more. As someone who has lived and breathed the channel in a past life, I know when it comes to small businesses although brand and cost are factors, being channel-friendly, having simple-to-use technology and a trustworthy reputation are much more powerful ingredients for success.