By Chanel Patrick, UK Channel Manager at IONOS
In recent years, digital transformation has allowed entire sectors to pivot away from the CAPEX outlay of owning and operating their own IT infrastructure, resulting in reduced costs and maintenance while making them more agile.
The cloud has been an indispensable pillar over the years, allowing organisations to process, store and manage their data in a secure and scalable way. Whether leveraging data on consumer trends and buying patterns or capitalising on faster work processes, allowing employees to use their time more efficiently. The cloud drives innovation and enhances consumer relationships, thus allowing organisations of all sizes to tap into broader markets.
We recently surveyed a host of UK SMEs to understand the determining factors of cloud adoption and the benefits their organisations have experienced. The responses revealed that over two-thirds had increased their cloud services since the pandemic, but many still admit some concerns are holding back wider adoption. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what some of those issues are…
Silver linings of cloud adoption
Why bother with the cloud? According to our survey, SMEs already benefit from increased productivity, flexibility, agility, and improved internal processes. Respondents said they also now have improved procurement processes and can deliver better customer experiences.
Indeed, the fast-paced business world requires quicker response times, rapid decisions, and a more flexible business process. The cloud helps SMEs to deliver on these evolving markets in the digital age and remain competitive with a consistent customer journey, more efficient and productive work styles, and more time to spend on those profit-based decisions. SMEs adopting the cloud have also realised that their legacy storage systems were limited in the business’s ability to grow. The cloud has subsequently allowed them to avoid the costs of upgrading their hardware to match their new growing demand.
Some SMEs need to catch up
Despite the clear benefits the cloud brings, 61% of respondents still view their business as ‘lagging’ when it comes to adopting cloud services, and less than 10% perceive their business as having optimised cloud usage. In the cloud maturity model from the Open Alliance for Cloud Adoption, ‘optimised’ or ‘CMM5’ is the highest level, where the cloud is an established part of the business model, with a mix of cloud operations leveraged to improve efficiency. It may be surprising that so few SMEs feel they are at that level. However, what may not be so incredible is that IT infrastructure came out on top in terms of optimised cloud usage when it comes to the maturity of cloud adoption across departments. At the same time, marketing was considered the least optimal.
The data security barrier
Despite viewing the cloud as necessary for their business’s evolution, data compliance and securing that data are two major concerns of SMEs. This fear continues to act as a barrier to cloud adoption and causes concern for SME IT leaders. Our research found that around half still worry that data protection is compromised when using cloud services and believe that the cloud makes them vulnerable to cyber threats.
But when sourcing a cloud provider, less than a quarter considered strict adherence to data protection an essential quality in their decision-making process. This highlights that even though data protection is a concern, SMEs simply don’t recognise the role that cloud providers can play in protecting their business.
This is a gap that needs addressing. While it is positive to see that small and medium businesses have invested in the cloud in recent years, this need for more knowledge about how cloud providers can support data protection is critical to fix. If SMEs know this and work closely with their cloud provider, they can ensure that services are implemented and integrated across the whole business and used effectively. It will also help minimise a lot of IT and cyber risk, as the cloud provider can help monitor and mitigate cyberattacks, ensure a safe and secure backup, and support with up-to-date expert knowledge on emerging legislation.
Did you know that keeping business data in the cloud tends to be much more secure than keeping it on-site at the company? Not least because certified cloud providers are much better protected than is generally the case at the data centres of individual companies or shared files across an often-unprotected network. SMEs can’t be experts in everything, and cybersecurity is an ever-evolving space where new, emerging threats occur almost daily. On the other hand, the cloud service provider has no option but to employ whole teams of security experts, which is critical to their business model. Ultimately, cloud service providers are the experts in data protection and cybersecurity, and they can be leaned on to navigate SMEs through their adherence concerns, security challenges, and data restoration.
Leap of faith
By taking that leap of faith and trusting cloud service providers with business-critical data, SMEs can ensure full cloud adoption and remain competitive in the medium and long term by reaping all the advantages that the cloud and digital transformation bring. While our survey highlighted an understanding from SMEs that cloud adoption is critical to their business success in the future, more work must be done to address these data protection concerns and remove them as a barrier to future adoption.