smb-tech-trendsA new survey out from Spiceworks, the vertical network for IT, finds that small and mid-sized businesses are embracing cloud-based applications such as file sharing, email and productivity solutions to enable employees to work any time and from anywhere. The independent survey of over 500 global respondents from Spiceworks Voice of IT program indicated SMBs are balancing the benefits of cloud based applications – less IT headaches, reduced cost and ease of use – against concerns about security and compliance.

Kathryn Pribish, Spiceworks Voice of IT program manager, said “Over the last year, we’ve seen that more companies are taking notice and formally adopting solutions that meet the ease of use and accessibility demands of their employees while maintaining corporate security, cost and compliance requirements.”

Survey highlights:

Hosted email set to surpass on-premise

  • Hosted email deployments grew four percent over the last year, from 42 to 46 percent. Another five percent of respondents plan to migrate to a hosted offering in the next six months. This growth comes at the expense of on-premise deployments, which fell three percent over the same period, from 52 percent to 49 percent.
  • Microsoft Office 365 is surging among small and mid-sized business users – nearly doubling in a year from 16 to 30 percent. Google, however, continues to hold its lead.

Cloud Computing SignFile sharing usage continues to grow

  • Half of the small and mid-sized business IT professionals surveyed indicated that their employees are using file sharing services on their own; although IT departments are moving to approve these services. Among these, 93 percent said Dropbox is the service of choice among employees using file sharing services on their own.
  • Vendor preference is more balanced for the 24 percent of respondents with a company-approved file sharing service. Dropbox leads with 40 percent, up from 28 percent last year, followed by Google Apps at 24 percent and Box at 10 percent. Companies with approved solutions have risen five percent in the last year.  Security/compliance, accessibility and cost are the major considerations among small and mid-sized companies in selecting a file-sharing service.

IT departments move quickly to support needs of remote teams

  • Web conferencing is helping to connect remote teams. Over half (51 percent) of survey respondents reported they have an approved web conferencing vendor or will approve one in the next six months, with 49 percent using Cisco WebEx.  Use of cloud-based collaboration tools is growing as well. Among respondents, 30 percent have an approved collaboration tool or plan to deploy one in the next six months. Of these companies, 41 percent use Evernote and 19 percent use Basecamp.
  • When it comes to cloud-based productivity tools, 48 percent currently use or plan to use one in the next six months. Preference among those companies is evenly divided between Microsoft Office 365 (60 percent) and Google Apps (59 percent).

How does your use of cloud-based applications compare to the Spiceworks survey?