By Daniel Hunter

The ability to work in a more mobile and flexible way was identified as the number one reason for small and midsize businesses (SMEs) in Britain to implement cloud computing, according to an IBM study.

Evidence from the study shows that businesses are now looking beyond the cost and resource efficiencies enabled by the cloud, and focusing instead on how the cloud can improve business outcomes and bring strategic value.

The study also revealed that the advantages of the cloud are being recognised by the majority of GB small and midsize businesses. Two thirds (67%) of the senior managers surveyed had either already implemented cloud services or anticipated they would in the future, with 30% of GB businesses looking to do so within the next two years.

Over 500 senior managers in small and midsize businesses were asked what they saw as reasons for implementing cloud technology. The increased ability for employees to work with greater mobility and flexibility was identified as the most popular reason to implement cloud services (39% of respondents), with cost efficiencies named as the second most popular reason (33% of respondents).

Businesses today realise that with the proliferation of smart mobile devices, the workplace is no longer a static physical place. Instead, it has become any place where employees can get work done, be it the home office, a local café, the train or on the road. IBM predicts that by 2015, there will be 1 trillion cloud-ready devices.

“Mid-market companies have understood for some time the financial benefits of the cloud, but we are now seeing an interesting shift to a new, more strategic level of thinking about what the cloud can deliver,” said Simon Porter, Vice President, Mid Market Sales, IBM Europe.

“Businesses are beginning to realise that the full potential of cloud goes far beyond a cost-focused ROI model. They are also increasingly looking at how the cloud can help expedite the move to a more mobile way of working for their employees, using smart phone and tablets to access key applications while creating a more flexible work/life balance.

“The way small and midsize businesses are using technology is evolving and they are quickly moving to a cloud delivery model to bring not only cost efficiency, but also use it as a means to focus on business growth rather than spending time on technology maintenance."

Of those who had not yet moved towards the cloud, the main reason given for the delay was lack of time (38%). With the various demands placed on mid-market companies, many of which have small, over-stretched IT departments, respondents feel unable to devote sufficient time to fully investigate the technical and business implications of moving to a cloud-based work model.

“For many mid-market companies, time is at a premium, which is why the benefits of new innovations often take years to be fully felt,” continued Porter. “It’s important that businesses find new ways to speed up this process, because solutions such as cloud computing can change the way that business works for all companies, not just corporate giants. Businesses are realising that the transformative power of cloud isn’t just about cost efficiencies — it’s about working in a smarter and more flexible way and IBM are actively helping mid-market companies realise this potential.”

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