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Good news for cloud services providers that cater to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
A majority of SMB owners have no qualms about parking their business-critical applications on the cloud. In fact, 57 percent of SMB owners reported using cloud services for more than half of their applications, according to a survey conducted by San Mateo, Calif.-based, cloud business phone services provider RingCentral.
The data points to a vibrant SMB services market for cloud providers. And they can thank the growing popularity of tablets like the iPad.
In its 2012 mobile survey, RingCentral discovered that tablet ownership exploded this year, to 62 percent from just 28 percent in 2011. In short order, tablets have turned into indispensable business tools, with 53 percent of respondents reporting that they use their tablets multiple times a day to take notes, check email, and browse the web.
In terms of popularity, document sharing apps sit atop the heap, with 67 percent of respondents reporting that they use the cloud to trade business documents and files. SMBs have also jumped on the collaboration and payroll apps bandwagons, according to RingCentral.
Clouds: The SMB IT Department
IT managers, already a rarity in most small businesses, could become an even rarer sight. Among those SMBs polled, 60 percent reported having no IT manager. And highlighting the shift toward DIY IT, which RingCentral attributes to cloud's consumerization of IT, only 14 percent reported fully relying "on an internal IT manager or a third-party IT consultant."
This trend tracks with a recent Microsoft-commissioned study from IDC. In the next few years, SMBs are expected to overtake enterprises in cloud job creation. This is due, in part, to less "legacy drag" -- essentially supporting older IT systems and software -- when signing up for cloud services. With fewer or no on-premises IT assets to manage, it makes little sense to keep techies on payroll.
"Legacy hardware and systems no longer fit the way modern businesses work," said Naveen Gupta, chief product officer at RingCentral, in a company statement. "Small and mid-sized businesses are adopting solutions that are flexible, mobile and affordable, and the survey data clearly speaks to this trend."
As far as remote work is concerned, the rise of cloud services along with blistering adoption rates for smartphones and tablets is giving SMB owners confidence. Sixty-four percent felt that they had the tools and cloud services required to completely run their businesses remotely using a mobile device.