Service providers tap SMBs with cloud services

Staff Writer
28 Sep 2010

Adoption of cloud services among small and midsize business (SMBs) continues to rise, presenting market opportunities for hosting and communications service providers. Microsoft is helping service providers take advantage of those opportunities through its software, services and programs that enable them to become trusted advisors and full-service IT providers to businesses.

“Microsoft sees service providers becoming more important as the cloud becomes more predominant,” said John Zanni, general manager of worldwide hosting for the communications sector at Microsoft. “Given their experience in deploying and selling infrastructure and software as a service, businesses will depend on them for IT as a service.”

Zanni said the next step for service providers is to look beyond their current hosted offerings to become full-service IT providers and trusted advisors to businesses.

According to Microsoft’s global SMB IT and Hosted IT Index 2010, awareness of hosted services is increasing with 65%of SMBs using hosted software to some extent. The index, a survey of nearly 3,200 SMBs across 14 countries, also found that 73% of the remainder have considered it – growing from only 44% in the 2008 index.

Of those respondents currently using hosted services, almost 36% wanted to find ways to improve business productivity while 31% did not have the resources to manage their IT. Surprisingly, only a quarter of respondents said cost was a factor. In terms of opportunities for hosting providers, three out of four respondents have considered using hosting for IT tools.

For instance, SMBs in China are the most likely to have considered using hosted services for four different IT tools -- backup, file-sharing and collaboration, e-commerce, and customer relationship management. In terms of the IT currently used by SMBs, email is the most pervasive IT tool worldwide (95.6%) followed by backup tools (92.4%).

However, this does not mean that these tools are used by every company worldwide. The research shows that even in a heavily regulated industry, more than 7% of financial services companies worldwide do not have any backup tools. This represents an enormous opportunity for service providers to provide hosted IT services to SMBs.

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