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SMBs appreciate cloud financial opportunities

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Cloud computing has quickly become a prominent technology in the private sector, as using hosted services enables organizations to augment operations by replacing old phone systems and other outdated solutions that may have a negative impact on productivity. In many cases, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) see particularly unique advantages in implementing the cloud, as doing so can strengthen their bottom line and give them a competitive edge over rival firms in the coming years.

A recent study of more than 1,000 SMBs by the research firm Colmar Brunton highlighted how smaller organizations are reaching for the cloud more aggressively than they have in the past. Currently, approximately 16 percent of SMBs use the cloud for business purposes, up from 14 percent in in July 2012.

Although there are a number of reasons to implement the cloud, the financial opportunities are highly convincing in today's unpredictable economy. In many cases, using a hosted PBX or other cloud-based technology introduces significant chances to not only reduce expenses, but also increase revenue, which can give an organization greater strength to move forward with other technological endeavors.

"Our research findings provide a clear-cut case for embracing online technologies in business," said Tim Reed, CEO of MYOB, the company that sponsored the survey. "The latest study reveals SMBs using cloud were twice as likely to see a revenue rise in the past year than those who aren't."

The financially sound cloud

The survey highlighted how organizations using the cloud are 106 percent more likely to experience an increase in revenue than those that don't, suggesting the hosted technology can introduce significant long-term financial opportunities in conjunction with the ability to reduce internal maintenance expenses. Conversely, only 53 percent of SMBs not using the cloud are expected to experience larger revenue.

The ability to reduce costs and improve sales also allows decision-makers to invest more heavily in other technical and operational endeavors. The study found that 52 percent of companies using the cloud intend to focus more on customer acquisition and retention strategies, compared to only 34 percent of firms that don't use the cloud. This means many organizations will be enhancing their contact center and other departments meant to improve the overall client experience.

Another 33 percent of SMBs using the cloud plan on increasing the number of services and solutions they offer, as opposed to only 22 percent of decision-makers not using the cloud.

"This ubiquitous technology has helped so many smaller businesses become better connected, more productive and more competitive," Reed asserted.

Using the cloud for voice

In many cases, SMBs will implement cloud PBX solutions to improve collaboration and voice quality without negatively impacting operations or the budget. By planning ahead and working with a trusted service provider, decision-makers can be sure long-term IT deployment strategies are aligned with other mission-critical goals.

A report by Parallels noted that the global market for SMB cloud services is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 28 percent through 2015, when it will eventually generate roughly $95 billion in revenue. A large portion of this spending will be carried out with the purpose of enhancing internal and external collaboration.

As cloud technologies continue to mature and evolve, executives in small companies need to consider implementing the hosted services to gain a competitive advantage over rival firms and ensure their ability to operate efficiently during the emergence of mobile solutions and other tools. While neglecting the cloud will not necessarily spell disaster, it may make it more challenging for SMBs to stay relevant.