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Exclusive: SMEs placing faith in the cloud – says IONOS

Chanel Patrick, UK Channel Manager at IONOS, says research shows the cloud brings productivity, flexibility and growth

Cloud computing has been one of the dominant trends shaping organisations over the past few years.
This shift is allowing entire sectors to pivot away from the capex outlay of owning and operating their own infrastructure, reducing costs and maintenance while making them more agile.

The cloud is an indispensable pillar of digital transformation, allowing organisations to process, store and manage their data in a more efficient, secure and scalable way.

The cloud is propelling innovation, enhancing consumer relationships, and allowing organisations of all sizes, including SMEs, to tap into broader markets.

IONOS recently surveyed retail, healthcare, technology and financial SMEs to understand the determining factors of cloud adoption and the benefits their organisations have experienced as a result.

Nearly 70% said they increased cloud services since the pandemic and as many believe the cloud will be an integral part of their business in the next five years.

Benefits of cloud adoption
Why will it be so central? SMEs investing in the cloud are already experiencing advantages such as increased productivity, flexibility and process improvement. They say deliver better customer experiences, improved procurement processes and being better prepared to manage IT infrastructure as the business grows.

Indeed, the fast-paced business world with shorter product cycles, rapidly changing market conditions and a vastly better-informed consumers requires faster response times, rapid decisions and a more flexible business process.

The cloud helps SMEs to deliver on these and remain competitive, more efficient and productive workstyles, and more time to spend on those profit-based decisions.

Some still lagging behind
Despite this eagerness from SMEs to digitally transform and the clear benefits the cloud brings, 61% unfortunately still view their business as ‘lagging behind’ when it comes to adopting cloud services and less than 10% perceive their business as having optimised cloud usage.

In the cloud maturity model from the Open Alliance for Cloud Adoption, ‘optimised’ or ‘CMM5’ is the highest level, where the cloud is an established part of the business model, with a mix of cloud operations leveraged to improve efficiency.

It may be surprising so few SMEs feel they are at that level but what might be not so surprising is when it comes to the maturity of cloud adoption across departments, it is IT infrastructure that came out on top in terms of optimised cloud usage, with 17% viewing their department as operating at an optimal level, while marketing was considered the least optimal.

Data and security concerns
Data compliance and securing that data are the two major concerns from SMEs, despite viewing the cloud as necessary to their business’s evolution.

Our research found that 44% are still worried that data protection is compromised when using cloud services, and over 50% are concerned that cloud leaves them vulnerable to cyber security threats.

In terms of what SMEs look for when sourcing a cloud provider, less than 25% considered strict adherence to data protection a key quality. This highlights that even though data protection is a concern, SMEs simply don’t recognise the role that cloud providers can play in protecting their business.

This gap needs to be addressed. While it is of course positive to see that small businesses have not only invested in the cloud in recent years, but also now feel it is central to the future of their business, this lack of knowledge around how cloud providers can actually support data protection is critical to sort out.

If SMEs are aware of this and work closely with their cloud provider, they can ensure that services are implemented and integrated properly across the whole business and used effectively.

It will help to minimise a lot of IT and cyber risk, too, as the cloud provider can help monitor and mitigate cyberattacks, such as DDoS attacks, ensure a safe and secure backup and support with up-to-date expert knowledge on emerging legislation.

Keeping business data in the cloud actually tends to be much more secure than keeping it on site at the company.
Not least because certified cloud providers are much better protected than is generally the case at the data centres of individual companies or shared files across an often-unprotected network.

Cybersecurity is an ever-evolving space where new, emerging threats occur almost daily. The cloud service provider, on the other hand, has no option but to employ whole teams of security experts and is critical to their business model.

Leap of faith
By taking that leap of faith and trusting cloud service providers with business-critical data, SMEs can ensure full cloud adoption and remain competitive in both the medium and long-term by reaping all the advantages that the cloud, and digital transformation, brings.

While our survey highlighted an understanding from SMEs that cloud adoption is critical to their business success in the future, more work needs to be done to address these data protection concerns and remove them as a barrier to future adoption.

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