April 24, 2015 | Written by: John C. Mason
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What a difference a year makes! Almost exactly a year ago, we were sharing reasons why small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) should consider including cloud in their IT plans. Today, virtually all U.S. SMBs are making use of cloud in one way or another — and by virtually all, we mean 96 percent.
That’s not a typo. According to a Techaisle report, 2015 US SMB Cloud Computing Adoption Trends, cloud adoption within U.S. SMBs will reach 96 percent this year. And analysts agree that cloud is no longer a trend that is discrete from mainstream IT.
When we talk about cloud, it’s no longer a future issue, it’s a present and essential element, addressing real business needs, adding simplicity and security and helping to accelerate innovation and growth. These benefits can’t be ignored.
So, if more businesses than ever are now on all in on cloud, how are they using it? Here are the top five uses of cloud computing in 2015 (and beyond):
1. Hybrid: Hybrid cloud makes it possible to bridge incompatible clouds and traditional on-premises environments to operate fluidly as one. As a result, SMBs increase control and security of their data and are able to bring portability to their back and front office applications, thus improving overall productivity and freeing employees to focus on their core mission—innovation—instead of worrying about IT.
2. Infrastructure: Businesses are taking advantage of scaling computing resources on demand and avoiding extra capital expenditure for resources they may only need for a few weeks. All of this is happening while quickly scaling up when they require additional bandwidth, storage or processing power. SMBs are flocking towards infrastructures that offer the flexibility to uniquely design their computing environment the way they know it works best.
3. Test & Development: Open, cloud-based environments are empowering SMBs to quickly innovate, test and launch new applications and solutions, cutting deployment times from months to hours or even minutes in many cases. Even the smallest developer teams are creating business applications with ease and speed, helping them to better serve their market and compete on a global scale.
4. Big Data and Analytics: The cloud is empowering SMBs to take advantage of big data and analytics technology that, through traditional means, would be too costly or complex for them. Now, these small business owners can identify the data that are most meaningful to their business, analyze and act upon key insights. This means uncovering and predicting trends before they happen, fostering a deeper understanding of customers, operations and markets. This enables companies to act when and where the positive business impact is greatest.
5. Mobility: The spread of cloud-based mobile solutions is helping small business owners easily and affordably arm their workforce with key applications and company information on the go. Having valuable customer data or inventory information at the touch of a finger helps improve efficiency and enhances customer relationships as they grow their business. This new level of mobility also enables small entrepreneurial businesses once confined by geography to establish a global presence and improve customer engagement.
John Mason is general manager of Midmarket for IBM.