Cloud computing small business survey: changing workforce

Cloud computing small business survey: changing workforce

Because of cloud computing, the workforce continues to rapidly change – and it’s crucial that business owners keep up. To get insights into this accelerated trend, backed up by solid original research, we turned to David Scarola, vice president of The Alternative Board (TAB).

“Cloud computing isn’t really computing, of course,” David says. “Rather it’s a hosting application. I’m surprised at how well business owners understand it and, once they’ve made the transition, the systems are typically so convenient that it’s feels like saving data to your own computing system.”

He described some of the types of business owners who participated in TAB’s cloud computing survey. “Some are burned out from technology and just don’t have cloud computing on their radar. For those willing to use it, some appreciate the added productivity and easy access to data, and are actually excited. These are the types of people who love to play in the sandbox, who love being cutting-edge early adopters. They almost embrace complexity. Others see cloud computing as a necessary evil and they do the minimum.”

People who have spent time using clunky homegrown systems, he adds, appreciate the way that the mobile computing revolution has focused on ease of use. “In-house developers used to have to make their own technologies and were very dependent upon them. Now,” he says, “saving data is streamlined.”
 

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High-level survey findings

Here are high-level findings of the June 2015 survey that TAB conducted about cloud computing and small business owners:

  • 43% are most concerned about cloud-based functionality
  • Only 9% are most concerned about privacy issues and only 7% of owners ranked confidence in security at less than a 5 on a 1 to 10 scale
  • The most common reason that business owners choose the cloud: making the workplace more mobile and productive
  • Poor employee training is the biggest difficulty faced when making the migration
  • In the majority of cases, cloud migration was problem-free and completed within the expected budget

 

Technology in the hands of businesswomen

Business owners talk about the cloud

To get this data, TAB surveyed 300 business owners from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Ireland, primarily in these industry sectors: professional services, manufacturing and construction. Here, you can download the executive summary and see the infographic.

“I’m very surprised by answers given about risk,” David told us, “having expected concerns to be much higher. I’m glad to see that folks have transitioned from fear once they made the cloud conversion – and I’m glad to see that, as they become more knowledgeable about and comfortable with cloud computing, the sense of risk went down.”

How cloud computing changes hiring and staffing

“You need to hire differently in this age,” David says. “And, owners will need to understand that some of their current employees – those who don’t use computers as much – will probably struggle with this transition while others will thrive.”

It’s likely, in general, that younger people who grew up using computers will adjust more readily, but David talks about one man in his mid-seventies who adapted more quickly to a cloud computing platform than his younger coworkers. “Plenty of folks who are older in years,” he says, “are just as open to change, no matter what the context.”

Cloud computing will likely continue to pave a path towards increased telecommuting. “More and more call center agents,” David says, “now work from home while stay-at-home moms are taking on shifts at a workplace via this technology.”

Here is more data collected in the survey:

Reasons for making the cloud migration

Here are the reasons that owners made the change:

  • Makes workforce more mobile and productive (22%)
  • Quicker/easier access to data (21%)
  • Services customers more effectively (11%)
  • Reduces risk (10%)
  • Low costs (8%)
  • Access to up-to-date technology (8%)

“We had assumed the fact that businesses would no longer need their own server rooms would be the biggest motivation,” David says, “but they were clearly more concerned about productivity and access to data than cost savings.”

Only 13% percent of owners are currently saying that they would not consider cloud computing for their business. To date, 33% have not used this technology.

Most common uses

cloud computing survey 2

Companies are using cloud computing for:

  • Data backup/storage (76%)
  • File hosting/sharing (70%)
  • Web-based email (58%)
  • Customer relationship management (41%)
  • Accounting/financial (39%)

Most significant concerns

Business owners listed these:

  • Platform functionality (43%)
    • Owners with a high-level understanding of cloud computing: 51%
    • Owners with a low-level understanding of cloud computing: 31%
  • Security concerns (38%)
    • Owners with a high-level understanding of cloud computing: 34%
    • Owners with a low-level understanding of cloud computing: 44%

Problems with cloud computing migration

Fifty-seven percent had no problems. The others experienced problems associated with the following:

  • Poor employee training (12%)
  • Poor transition/integration (10%)
  • Poor technical support (9%)

What about your small business? Have you made the migration to cloud computing? Why or why not?

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