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Telcos could help drive cloud services into SMEs, says report

A study commissioned by cloud services marketplaces provider BCSG says telcos are a natural route to market for SME cloud services

A report from cloud services marketplace supplier BCSG has suggested that telecoms operators could make a killing by diversifying into cloud provisioning for small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) customers.

Although the likes of BT Global Services have already carved out a lucrative cloud business among enterprise customers – and many telcos offer help and guidance for SMEs on areas such as hosting and business applications – the opportunity for telecoms operators to become full suppliers of cloud technology to smaller businesses remained largely untapped, said BCSG.

The supplier conducted a study of SMEs both in the UK and the US, and predictably found high levels of confusion among many over the most appropriate cloud services for their businesses.

Just under half of them said they would be willing to purchase cloud services from their telecoms supplier, while 40% said they were willing to buy software and other tools from operators to help grow their business.

The results of the study could make interesting reading for telecoms firms that are facing ongoing pressure to retain and grow high average revenue per user (ARPU) customers such as SMEs, as well as contending with a shrinking voice market.

With only 31% of SMEs surveyed saying they had a cloud migration strategy in place, BCSG predicted that the firm intent from SMEs – based on forecasts of the UK and US SME cloud market – could be worth upwards of $22bn.

“Not only is the SME market a potential goldmine for operators looking to add greater value to customers through service diversification, they also present a captive and willing audience,” said BCSG commercial director Tom Platt.

“It is vital that operators seize the initiative by helping their SME customers realise the value of cloud services and business applications.”  

The report also warned that many SMEs felt their telecoms suppliers were largely complacent when it came to proactively managing their needs, and felt forgotten.

More than half (52%) said they would contemplate switching operators in the next two years, and 58% said they would switch operators if offered a broader range of technology and services.

“Long tenure from SME customers does not imply loyalty – and operators can’t afford to be complacent. These results demonstrate the value of operators broadening their service offering to SMEs,” said Platt.

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