Cloud computing is still very much a growing technology, even though many of us now utilise cloud-based services on a daily basis. However, recent research has indicated that the future of this exciting technology is certainly assured, as usage of the cloud is set to grow exponentially in the next few years.
A new report from Emergent Research and Intuit Inc indicates that over 75 precent of US small businesses will be fully adapted to cloud computing by 2020. This would represent a huge increase in the next six years, given that the current rates of take up among such companies in the United States is around 37%.
The report not only suggests that cloud computing is to become a dominant force in the commercial sector, it also paints a detailed picture of the specific ways that small businesses will take advantage of this critical technology. Whereas cloud computing has thus far been largely put into operation to achieve efficiency gains in the short-term, this recent report suggests that over time the child will be increasingly used in more revolutionary and transformative ways which will fundamentally redefine the way that business operates.
The important thing to understand about cloud computing is that it offers opportunities to small businesses that greatly differ in nature. One doesn’t need to be a tech start-up based in silicon valley in order to take advantage of this technology; eventually virtually all small businesses will realise that it has a great deal to offer them.
The report entitled “Small Business Success in the Cloud” outlines the impact of cloud technology as it is progressively adopted by increasing numbers of small businesses. “Small Business Success in the Cloud” predicts that the initial focus of the last few years will pretty rapidly give way to the emergence of new business models, before eventually a panoramic acceptance and adoption of the cloud will take place across business and society as a whole.
This latest report is in fact part of a series which Emergent Research and Intuit Inc have dubbed “Dispatches from the New Economy”. This influential and innovative series of reports represents a vast project which explores in detail the ways in which economic, technological and social shifts will impact upon the operation of small businesses in the coming years. Emergent Research and Intuit have in fact been tracking small business trends for a decade, so their collective opinion on the direction of the cloud is certainly worth paying heed to.
The report also lists “faces of the new economy”; four types of business that have particularly effectively adapted to usage of the cloud. The four groups of companies in question are as follows:
This particular tranche of businesses effectively plug into cloud-based service providers. One of the most prominent examples of this is the San Francisco-based ZenPayroll. This company has automated the payroll submission process via the cloud, and now deals with all manner of financial transactions such as payroll taxes, filings and forms electronically. This ensures that small businesses in United States who work with ZenPayroll never needs to fill in any form of government document. This is extremely valuable given that 40% of the 6 million small businesses in the United States currently process their payroll by hand.
The second group identified by the reports are referred to as Hives. These flexible, high turnover businesses operate with employees working in a raft of different locations. The cloud is enabling this to occur by making communication over vast distances considerably easier, and the technology is also assisting with the pooling of resources.
This group refers to small companies which compete with major corporations for business. This is very much a growing trend, particularly in the United States, and the cloud is very much aiding this process. One prominent example cited by the reports is Airbnb, but there are a tranche of small financial advisory firms that have also cropped up which fit this definition. Small-scale investment banks are able to compete with some of the biggest corporations in the world, and this group of businesses are taking advantage of the functionality provided by cloud infrastructure.
The final group identified by the report is portfoloists. These are freelancers who rely on a variety of different income streams in order to make a living. Many of these individuals utilise the cloud in order to manage their workstreams efficiently. According to research, 30% of people that run small businesses which have less than 20 employees also have a second form of income or job. This is the case across every sector of the economy, and thus portfoloists are increasing rapidly in number. The cloud is offering this group flexibility and convenience which assists greatly in organising their busy lives.
In summary, although the cloud has already achieved a prominent position in modern commerce, it is inevitable given the trends existing today which have already been established that the technology will be a central part of business by the end of this decade.