Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are recognising the benefits offered by cloud computing and, in 2015, 39% of them are using cloud services – up 10% from 2014.

This is according to Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx, releasing results from the latest SME Survey this morning.

“For the first time, we are seeing a real take-up of cloud services, which indicates that more and more SMEs are overcoming their natural apprehensiveness around the cloud and are instead starting to realise the benefits it can offer” he says.

“OF those surveyed, although only an additional 4,5% said they would definitely be using the cloud by next year, there are obvious clues that we can expect an even bigger jump in the numbers – in particular, a fifth of SMEs (19%) said their use of the cloud next year will depend on business needs, and another third (35%) say they are currently unsure. WE anticipate that at least a portion of these businesses will discover they either need of want the cloud. It is logical to extrapolate a figure that suggests 50% of SMEs will be using the cloud by 2016.”

Goldstuck points out that many SMEs are already using cloud services without being aware of it, with about 83% using online e-mail, for instance.

“Services like this could be referred to as the ‘invisible cloud’ – online e-mail is clearly a cloud service, but the majority of SMEs don’t see it as such.”

In addition, 47% of SMEs use online backups and 37% use online accounting, while 27% use an online project management service and 25% use online CRM (customer relationship management).

Goldstuck believes that understanding that the services they already use are in the cloud is important as this could prompt SMEs to try out additional cloud services.

“Ultimately, of course, the real driver will come not from whether they know certain solutions are cloud services or not,” he adds. “Instead, real uptake of cloud will be driven by selling specific applications to SMEs. If service providers are able to convince more SMEs to utilise specific solutions it won’t be long before they realise the benefits. For example, cloud-based HP applications are more economical than tailored in-house systems so they give the entrepreneur more time to focus on innovation.”

Elain Wang, Microsoft business unit manager at Rectron, adds: “While it is incredible to watch the uptake of cloud services skyrocketing due to the inherent benefits that if offers SMEs, they should still consider all possible alternatives in deciding which solutions to implement as well as how to get it done.

“The results of the research indicate that there is a fuzzy line between  consumer and commercial solutions. Therefore, SMEs need to ensure that they are taking full advantage of the security and features behind the commercial solutions, and choose the right partner to take them forward.”