Cloud computing offerings are – in theory at least – ideally suited to smaller firms. Where cash flow is tight, the promise of hosted, subscription-based IT services surely can’t be ignored. Yet I believe the SME community is either unaware of or ambivalent about cloud.
Trust plays a fundamental part in the buying decisions of SMEs. Overwhelmingly, I believe SMEs will turn to colleagues, peers or existing service providers for advice or guidance on buying decisions.
And the biggest mistake made by cloud vendors appears to be the assumption that a website can replace the long-standing relationships that small businesses have with their suppliers.
In many ways, cloud computing to date has been about 90 per cent hype and 10 per cent substance. Cloud service providers and vendors have played no small part in creating the hype, leading to confusion about the actual technology.
IT bosses won’t be lying awake at night thinking about cloud computing. They are surely thinking about the real issues for their business. If you want to sell to small businesses, you must address those problems, not get carried away with self-important discussions about delivery models.
Small businesses don't care what it's called, but only whether it works. While the benefits of cloud computing are real and compelling, it's the pitch and the approach that's wrong.
Small businesses thrive on the strength of their relationships. They pick suppliers who understand their business, not companies who only appear to exist online with a one-size-fits-all offering, a datacentre and a helpdesk in India.
This could be good news for many smaller UK suppliers and resellers. The biggest cloud vendors are clearly missing a trick. It's all well and good changing the IT delivery model but they can't change the way people want to buy.
Steve Holford is marketing director of Rise
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