There will be a significant increase in paid cloud services over the next five years among small and midsize businesses, according to new research from Edge Strategies and Microsoft.

Based on a survey of IT decision-makers/influencers at more than 3,000 SMBs in 13 countries, the research predicted that paid cloud services will double in five years, while the number of the world's smallest companies using at least one paid cloud service will triple in the next three years.

"Gone are the days of large enterprises holding the keys to enterprise-class IT and services," Marco Limena, vice president, Operator Channels at Microsoft, said in a statement. "The cloud levels the playing field for SMBs, helping them compete in today's quickly changing business environment, by spending less time and money on IT and more time focused on their most important priority—growing their businesses."

The research shows that 59% of companies currently using cloud services report significant productivity benefits from IT, compared with 30% of companies not yet using the cloud.

Despite a sluggish global economy, 63% of SMBs using cloud services today expect to grow in sales in the next 12 to 18 months, while 55% think technology will power their growth. Half of the companies surveyed say cloud computing will become more important for their operations, and 58% think working in the cloud can make companies more competitive.

Only about 20% of SMBs consider data to be less secure in the cloud than it is in their on-premise systems. Thirty-six percent overall and 49% of larger SMBs think data is as secure in the cloud as in their own systems.



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