The Appification of Small Business

Small businesses are at the tipping point of broad-based cloud adoption. This from a new research report from Intuit that shows how big an opportunity this is for developers and cloud solution providers.

The Cloud-Powered Small Business

Currently 37% of United States small businesses are adapted to the cloud, but an anticipated 78% will be fully cloud operational by 2020. Given the sheer size of this market, it’s a huge opportunity.

Cloud-Powered SMBs

The center of the small business cloud is financial management

SMB owners spend 4 hours a day online running their business. What are they doing? 65% conduct back-office work like book-keeping and accounting, 65% generate invoices and accept payments, 58% are managing customer relationships and 48% are communicating with employees and partners.

SMB Financial Management

SMBs are enthusiastically embracing mobile

Nearly half (43%) of SMB owners use a smartphone as the primary device to run their business and the vast majority of them use multiple devices.

Mobile enabled SMBs

And, they’re willing to spend

SMBs already spend $630/year on average on software solutions and 85% of SMB executives are willing to invest more in software solutions over the next 5 years with a significant number (27%) looking to simplify day-to-day operations.
SMBs are willing to spend

Automate routine day-to-day approvals and streamline operations

frevvo’s Cloud-based approval workflows are perfectly suited to small businesses. We’re an SMB ourselves and we use our own product to simplify our day-to-day operations in a host of areas like purchase orders, leave approvals and many other form-based workflows. Check out this infographic on 11 Cloud solutions we use everyday and sign up for a free trial on our website.

Check out the Intuit e-Book here (no login/registration required).

Business Transformation is the primary driver of cloud – KPMG

KPMG’s recent 2014 Cloud Survey Report (download here for free, no signup) finds that cloud usage in the enterprise is no longer primarily driven by cost but by business transformation. In 2012, it was all about Cost Efficiencies. Today, other considerations are increasingly at the forefront.

It’s about more than cost – Part I

Driving cost efficiencies (49%) is still the top use of cloud but the gap has narrowed dramatically. Mobile enablement (42%), improved alignment with customers/partners (37%) and better leveraging of data for business insights (35%) are important ways in which business are looking to use cloud computing.

Top Ways Business are Using Cloud

Mobile Enabling Employees

Truly mobile-enabling your company doesn’t just mean buying devices or instituting a BYOD policy. It means applications and services that are mobile-aware and Cloud is an essential enabler. It’s an inevitable nexus of forces: Mobile + Cloud is truly a case of 2+2=5.

Where mobile is driving most value

Cloud implementations are succeeding …

Improving business performance (73%), service automation (72%) and reducing costs (70%) are the top three success areas. Importantly, there’s a lot companies have learned since 2012 and they’re far more successful with cloud.

Successful areas of business improvement

… but there are still challenges

Data loss & privacy (53%), risk of intellectual property theft (50%), and impact on IT (49%) are major concerns. Again though, we’re dealing more with day-to-day concerns than getting-started concerns.

Most challenging areas with cloud

It’s about more than cost – Part II

Security (82%) and data privacy (81%) outpace cost (78%) as factors when selecting a cloud solution and others like functionality (76%) and integration (74%) are not far behind. With all the recent high-profile cyber-attacks, it’s clearly a hot-button issue across the enterprise. Cloud providers get this and have teams dedicated to security. Far beyond the efforts of most organizations.

Important factors in deploying cloud

The cloud’s potential is sky-high and it will inevitably impact more and more areas of every business. The best part is that cloud is reducing costs but it has also become a key enabler driving all kinds of strategic business transformations.

Download the full report here (free and no signup required).

No wonder customers want Hybrid Cloud

Recently, we got an unexpected and unpleasant surprise. We use Salesforce as our CRM. Having gone through a Siebel deployment at a previous job, this was amazing. We signed up, didn’t install anything, setup a few users and BOOM! We were ready to go. Public cloud SaaS just made so much sense for small companies like ours.

Salesforce PricingBut, we’ve seen some cracks in the Salesforce armor lately. First, even for small companies like ours, they expect annual contracts with pre-established user counts. What happened to the “pay-as-you-go” promise of Public Cloud? The Unlimited version costs $250/user/month if billed annually. For 1000 users, that’s $3MM/year. Paid upfront! Preset user counts typically results in over-provisioning and shelfware. Even we (small though we are) have too many users that we pay for and don’t use. Can you say traditional enterprise sale? And, if I were Salesforce, I could quickly get used to that kind of cashflow.

The bigger surprise for us came when we wanted access to OUR DATA. We found that API access to our own Salesforce data is metered and is very limited based on our [relatively small] user counts. To access our own data, we have to buy access. Again:

We have to pay a fee to Salesforce just so we can access OUR data.

Salesforce may have good reasons but, that’s just insane. No wonder customers increasingly deploy Hybrid or Private Cloud solutions where they have control over their own data. Multi-tenancy and IaaS increasingly benefit Salesforce rather than customers.

Overall, there’s no doubt that we benefit greatly from Public Cloud including Salesforce. But, we see our customers seriously thinking about Hybrid Cloud (particularly for database, authentication and authorization and, of course, integration with business systems). With costs like this compounded with the persistent security worries (myths), it’s hardly a surprise!