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Entrepreneurs still wary of cloud computing: Optus report

Tuesday, 25 October 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
Almost 60% of Australian small businesses are unaware or unsure of cloud computing and what it offers, a new report claims, while 43% struggle to keep up with developments in technology.

 

The Optus Digital Ready report, based on a survey of 850 small businesses with no more than 50 employees, shows businesses are divided on the importance of technology and a digital strategy.

 

The report reveals 48% of small businesses don’t have a website. Of those that do, only 28% are extremely satisfied with what they do have.

 

This could be because they are failing to use their websites in dynamic ways. Only 21% use social media for business engagement, suggesting they need to improve their online strategies.

 

Meanwhile, more than a quarter of respondents see no value in having an online presence.

 

Also of note were respondents’ attitudes towards cloud computing. It seems the cloud is still a mystery to small businesses, with 59% unaware or unsure of cloud solutions and what they offer.

 

Less than 10% of respondents admit to fully understanding cloud solutions, while 80% are either not using or considering solutions, or are unsure of what the cloud is.

 

Of those who do know about the cloud but are not yet using the technology (34%), almost a third don’t believe it will help their business, while 25% admit they require further information.

 

Currently, only 4% of small businesses are using the cloud or considering it, with data backup identified as the main area of interest.

 

The key benefits seen by cloud users are the ability to access data from anywhere (50%) and a lower total cost of ownership (24%).

 

Respondents’ opinions were also divided on the value of mobility. Around half agree it is valuable, with most businesses equipping their staff with mobiles to work more on the move.

 

Meanwhile, 5% of survey respondents provide their staff with tablets.

 

However, only 46% of respondents secure their mobile devices with the correct software, compared to the 89% who have antivirus software on their PCs.

 

With regard to technology in general, 50% of respondents claim to know enough about IT to make informed decisions, yet 43% find it difficult to keep up with technology developments.

 

More than 70% prefer to wait until IT products and services are tried and tested before they adopt, and almost two-thirds welcome advice from IT experts.

 

Rohan Ganeson, Optus managing director of small and medium business, says the research shows that the attitudes and adoption rates among respondents – with regard to technology – appears to be split 50/50.

 

“When you consider that 93% of online Australians access the internet daily and 71% use their smart phones to browse the web, our research indicates that SMBs are missing out on potential opportunities if they don’t keep pace with how consumers want to engage with them,” he says.

 

“The internet is going mobile and we believe these expectations will increasingly require SMBs to operate in the digital space. If they don’t, they risk falling behind.”