Suppliers must create SME cloud packages

I always here about the fact that the SME market is bigger than the Enterprise sector and big IT suppliers always claim to be targeting the sector. Yet SMEs always seem to remain second class citizens with few of the big players willing to  invest heavily in services specifically for SMEs.

Part of the problem is the risks involved with serving SMEs. It is a very fragmented market made up of companies of a plethora of sizes, in a wide range if industry sectors, and spread across a multitude of locations.

Surely with the arrival of cloud computing in the mainstream it is the opportunity for more suppliers to develop SME specific packages that can be easily accessed by SMEs. Public, private and public/private clouds will reduce the costs associated with reaching the SMEs.

In May last year I spoke to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) about its trial of SME cloud services in its home country, India. TCS’s UK head at the time A S Lakshmi said: “SMEs have the same requirements as large companies but it is difficult because they are very fragmented.” I will get an update on that soon.

The reason I write this today is because I received the results of some research carried out by a hosting and could service provider Parallels. Its SMB Cloud Insights research, which you can download here, revealed a market worth £660m for SME cloud services.

It also found that 62% of SMEs plan to use cloud services.

According to the research this is what the SMEs want:

– 20% of micro SMBs (companies with 1-9 employees) currently use in-house servers, and of those 42% plan to switch from in-house to hosted servers in the next three years

– 50% of small SMBs (companies with 10-49 employees) have in-house servers, and 62%  of those are planning to switch to hosted servers in the next three years

– 28% of small SMBs and 31% of medium SMBs have e commerce capabilities, while only 15% of micro SMBs have these

– 50% of UK SMBs still design their websites in-house

– Facebook is the second leading form of web presence for SMBs with 28% actively using the website, followed by LinkedIn with 24% Only 4% of small and 11 percent of medium businesses pay for premium hosted e-mail services

– 12% of micro SMBs and 36 percent of small SMBs currently use in-house e mail servers

– While a significant portion of online application use is still free, UK SMBs plan a net increase of at least 10% in spending across several categories of online applications, including online accounting, phone conferencing and file sharing