Cloud Services on the Radar for SMBs in 2012
In major markets around the globe, when 2012 comes to an end it will likely remembered as “the year of the
Small and Midsize Business.” Microsoft expects SMB adoption of enterprise-class solutions to rise at a much
faster rate in 2012 than in previous years. SMBs are increasingly eager to join their enterprise brethren in the
use of new technology platforms that can help them increase their profitability and future business growth.
According to Forrester Research analyst Tim Harmon, this new eagerness is also being driven, at least in part,
by the “Millennialization” of SMBs—as more tech-savvy digital natives join the SMB workforce, they are
heavily influencing how SMBs use technology.
The availability of new and inexpensive software delivery models, such as cloud computing, is also a factor in
this rapid shift. Cloud computing is putting more powerful enterprise-class technologies into the hands of
SMBs. Cloud services are ideally suited to SMB work-styles. SMBs are used to operating in very flexible work
environments. The nature of their business demands flexible cost structures, flexible staff and flexible IT
solutions. Some SMBs may not even have fixed work spaces and employees may hold multiple roles and
spend their time constantly on the move. Cloud computing gives them a wealth of choices they never
Some of the technological trends we expect to see among SMBs in the coming year include:
Cloud services: SMBs will demand that all IT solutions—whether on-premises, off-premises or
combinations of both—require minimal time for user training and IT maintenance. Cloud services
address this demand because they offer powerful technology behind an intuitive user interface, all
within the reach of SMB IT budgets. In 2012, more SMBs will adopt cloud services, moving some or
all of their legacy software solutions to cloud-based versions to better manage data accessibility and
Software: Accessing, using and managing software through the cloud goes hand-in-hand with
increased employee mobility, which translates into doing business with customers from anywhere.
Microsoft online services such as Office 365, CRM Online and Windows Intune offer SMBs cloud-
based solutions that deliver high performance while keeping costs low. These Software-as-a-Service
(SaaS) solutions are available through subscription-based licensing models that work with various
SMB IT investment goals. They also free SMB owners from managing PC infrastructures so they can
focus on running their businesses.
Devices: With the lines between personal and work devices blurring, more employees want to use
their own devices at work, at home or on the road to connect to IT networks. Yet the need for a
consistent user experience, data integrity and network security remains essential. Cloud applications
like Office 365 help mobile workers get work done on corporate networks from any location utilizing
any device, including smartphones, PCs and tablets.
Piracy protection: In 2012, piracy issues are expected to continue to escalate, and the onus is on
individual SMB owners to be alert and protect their business right from the beginning. As in the past
few years, emerging economies will be at the center of this problem:
o The 2010 Business Software Alliance Global Software Piracy Study (released May 2011) revealed
that more than half of pirated software took place in emerging markets.
o The problem of piracy will attack businesses and government funding and resources through the
loss of tax revenue, costing the global economy US$1.7 trillion by 2015, according to an ICC
report, Estimating the global economic and social impacts of counterfeiting and piracy.
Microsoft understands that SMBs are concerned with cost, and while cheaper pirated software may
deliver the short-term cost savings, the long-term dangers of counterfeit software lurk in the
background. SMBs using pirated software open their business up to the potential identity theft, loss
of data and lost time and money due to PC and device downtime and repairs. In order to avoid
exposing their businesses to risk, SMBs need to remain vigilant about where they acquire their
software, whether at retail outlets or online.
As we step into 2012, SMBs will lead the way in the economic recovery in both developed and emerging
markets. Generating more than half of the world’s GDP, SMBs are the lean-running engines of our future
economic growth. Microsoft and its partners stand ready and committed to helping these customer-focused,
revenue-generating powerhouses to embrace the benefits of the cloud to update their legacy IT applications
and improve their business performance.
- Vahé Torossian, corporate vice president, Worldwide Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners Group