59% of SMEs already leverage the cloud: New research reveals top small business IT priorities

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Mobility, security, flexibility and reliability have been revealed as the key IT issues that concern small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), according to new research released by hosted desktop service provider WeWorkEverywhere.

The study outlines what SME businesses feel they need from their IT department in order to be productive, efficient, and competitive, as well as providing a snapshot of the evolution of attitudes towards IT infrastructure for the modern small business, in particular developments around the deployment of cloud-based systems and services.

Richard Reggel, head of cloud services at WeWorkEverywhere, told Technology.info: “Demand is growing for reliable, scalable and flexible IT systems that can support the rapidly changing needs of today’s SME businesses."

This is particularly reflected in the numbers of SME employees utilising agile working practices, with 37 per cent working remotely from hotels, 29 per centfrom airport lounges or airplanes, 27 per centworking in cafés or coffee shops and 24 per centon public transport.Reggel credited the rapid consumer shift towards mobile devices with kickstarting the bring your own device (BYOD) movement, which in turn led to drastic change in the productivity and efficiency calculations of small business.

"For SMEs both cloud technology and enabling remote working are key focus areas as we move into 2014. In an always-on, mobile world the need to work from anywhere, using any device, is critical," he said.

However, as always, security is the number one concern of any business owner, with 67 per cent of respondents citing it as their top concern.

Reggel added: "Security remains a top concern for SMEs – both in managing their own systems and in using cloud-based technology. And, with on-going concerns over limited budgets, managing cost and predictable pricing will also be key priorities for SMEs across all key technology areas.”

The report also shone a light on the feelings of many SMEs towards cloud technology, security, IT systems, mobility and productivity. For instance, 36 per cent of SMEs quizzed replied that robust systems are the most important quality that they look for in their IT.

The results of the study are as follows:

Security the top SME concern

· 67% of those surveyed stated that security and data protection was their top concern when it comes to IT related issues. Security ranked much higher than concerns around upgrades and on-going maintenance costs (32%)

· 40% of those surveyed were concerned about limited budgets

· 34% of respondents were concerned about the ability to access files and documents if working remotely

Lack of system flexibility irritates users and hinders business productivity

· Less than a quarter (24%) of survey respondents were satisfied with their current IT systems

· 22% are suffering from a lack of productivity when working remotely, unable to access documents and applications from local servers

· 25% claimed they were having to cope with out-dated technology

· 26% felt that different interfaces with different devices was particularly irritating

SMEs want robust IT systems

· 36% of respondents rated reliability and confidence in performance most important when it comes to their IT systems

· The ability to work seamlessly from multiple locations was also considered of top importance (21%)

SMEs are flocking to the cloud but security remains a top concern

· Well over half (59%) of SMEs are already using some kind of cloud based system

· The majority of SMEs are using cloud for email (33%) and data storage/back-up (33%). Other cloud systems being used were accounting and billing (15%), HR (14%) and CRM systems (14%)

· Even though cloud has moved into the mainstream, over 60% of those surveyed still felt that security was a major concern

· 42% were also concerned about someone else controlling their data

· 28% highlighted hidden costs as a key concern, indicating that many SMEs are wary of rising costs of cloud

SMEs are working remotely – and in some unusual places

· 37% are working remotely from hotels, 29% from airport lounges or planes, 27% are working in cafés or coffee shops and 24% on public transport

· 9% admitted to working in the bathroom, 6% at the cinema or theatre, and 6% said they worked at the gym

· Other more unusual places cited were the beach, the pub, the football stadium and at sea using a satellite-based system to connect to the office

· Just 13% of respondents said that they had never worked remotely

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