For small and mid-sized businesses, the cloud has proven to be something of a good news, bad news proposition.
- Good news: The cloud allows these businesses to easily add new software applications.
- Bad news: Many small- and mid-sized businesses fail to think through their adoption of cloud-based applications and are finding it difficult to make them play nice with all the other technology systems they employ, either on-premises hardware or other cloud-based software.
SMB Group Inc., a Northbrough, Mass. market research firm, says in a report that the result is that many small and mid-sized companies are having a hard time making sense of the different “silos” where their information is located, as well as cloud technology that, in theory, should work with other cloud-based tech but doesn’t.
In fact, SMB Group says, integration became the top challenge for medium-sized businesses in 2013 and expected that it would become even more of a focus in 2014.
“It doesn’t take too many disconnected applications to feel the pain of productivity drains, errors, and a lack of solid data to support decision-making,” the report says. “Integration still isn’t sexy, but the improved productivity, time savings, error reduction and decision-making benefits that it enables are,” SMB Group says.
This is why moving their entire IT operation to the cloud could be appealing for many small- and medium-sized businesses. Rather than having a jumble of applications, hardware, middleware and operating systems, taking everything to the cloud both simplifies operations and makes integration much easier.
Avoiding Dark Clouds
But MSPs and other service providers need to be weary about pricing their services, because pricing is something that could be holding these small- and medium-sized businesses back from fully adopting cloud services. That’s because they have been victim too often of what SMG Group calls “dark clouds.”
This refers to the unfortunate practice by some providers of getting business customers in with one set of pricing, and then changing both rates and terms and conditions once the clientele have signed up.
“They have replaced monthly subscription pricing with annual contracts, tacked on added fees for all but the most basic support, and created pricing models that are almost as confusing as those of the traditional software behemoths they once berated,” SMG Group’s report says. “As SMBs push further into the cloud, they will favor vendors that stay true to the original cloud promise, and steer clear of dark clouds.”