Microsoft’s new SMB cloud survey is impressive because of the coverage – almost 200 SMBs in each of 16 countries, having between 2 and 250 employees. In terms of methodology it looks quite sound.
The Microsoft headline: “Microsoft Survey Reveals 39 Percent of SMBs to Pay for Cloud Services Within Three Years“
My headline: “More than 50% of SMBs unable to make informed decisions about cloud computing – global survey“.
It’s actually 53%, see slide 16 – “I don’t know enough about cloud computing to be able to make decisions about using cloud services”.
Leading indicator is accessing email through multiple methods
My 5 key findings for this survey group are:
- The leading indicator of paid cloud adoption is accessing email through multiple methods – web, mobile, desktop app etc.
- Irrational fears still drive decision-making:
– better control over inhouse applications and data than cloud 57%
– cloud services unproven and too risky 30%
– data not secure in the cloud 30%
- There is a strong prevailing belief that local presence is “critical or important” ( 82% )
- This belief, which I also believe is irrational, never-the-less provides good opportunities for local service providers
- The highest growth areas for those opportunities are the vanilla services such as data archiving and compliance, file sharing, and web conferencing – slide #9 – followed by CRM and collaboration.
Findings don’t align with Microsoft’s global online services strategy
It’s all rather ironic since Microsoft’s “All In the cloud” strategy is entirely about selling online services directly to SMB’s – globally. For example, Australia is serviced out of a data centre in Singapore. Well actually who cares where, except that predictably our SMB survey audience still do!
It also has to be the grand plan, even if not trumpeted from the roof of MS HQ, that base level of global online services includes support sufficient to attract customers, and therefore to cut out local support requirements – think email, web conferencing, file sharing, storage and backup, archiving and compliance.
That leaves accounting and payroll, CRM, collaboration, and specific business applications as potential value-added areas for local service providers.
Milk the cash cow of ignorance
The good news is that the SMB’s irrationality and ignorance of cloud provides a so-called “window of opportunity” for local service providers to leverage the “local presence” bandwagon.
There is also the legitimate value of migration services, and although one-off this can be good cash for local providers, providing that they have very cost effective migration tools (if they don’t, this could be done by remote or offshore or at least non-local specialist providers).
They can use that cash-flow to transform their own business, in anticipation of their SMB customers becoming educated about cloud, to support higher value offers and support for the more complex cloud services.
It seems callous to take money from the ignorant but according to the survey SMBs are willing to pay for their irrationality so it is a golden opportunity for transformation for local service providers.
Action plan, from the survey
The plan is – focus on the SMB segment currently or planning to access email through multiple methods, milk the full suite of current services for local support, pick up the cloud migration projects, sell hard into the highest cloud growth areas as that’s where the customers have an appetite, and use the funds to build value-add in cloud accounting and payroll, CRM, collaboration, and specific business applications.
What is your main conclusion from the survey?
What do you see as the greatest opportunity for local service providers in support of SMBs using global online services?