Small Businesses Cite Security as Cloud Uptake Barrier

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Two-fifths (38%) of small UK businesses remain skeptical about the benefits of cloud computing in the face of perceived risks.

That’s according to the UK’s Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which also noted that a recent European Commission report found that as a result of the adoption of cloud computing, 80% of organizations could potentially reduce their costs by around 10% to 20%. There are also significant potential green benefits, with the energy footprint of small firms having the potential of being reduced by up to 90% by moving tasks online. Nonetheless, security fears abound.

FSB has found that despite three-fifths (60%) of small firms using cloud computing, there are five top concerns: data theft or loss (61%), reliable access to online services (55%), concerns over who would have access to the data (53%), liability issues (41%) and over-dependence on cloud computing services (33%).

“Many small businesses are recognizing the advantages of cloud computing services, but there remains a great deal of concern that sensitive data may not be secure or the service not reliable,” said John Allan, FSB National Chairman. “Businesses don’t want to transition to cloud-based systems without knowing who will be liable if something goes wrong. As our previous research has shown, there are significant gains to be made from using this technology so it is imperative more is done to address firms' understandable reservations and remove barriers to take-up.”

Out of all the businesses questioned, just under half (45%) said they were already greatly or fairly reliant on cloud-computing services. The most common services used by the small businesses who use cloud computing included: storing files online (74%), web-based email and calendars (67%), file sharing services (64%), web-based office software (38%) and accounting and invoicing services (37%).

“The fact that so many businesses are already heavily reliant on web-based services raises some pointed questions over the resilience of the wider UK economy if we can’t find answers to questions like global data security and legal jurisdiction over data held in other countries,” Allan said.

When asked what changes would help persuade small firms to use cloud computing services, half of all respondents wanted plain English terms and conditions (48%) and nearly as many wanted simpler and more transparent pricing (46%).

“Clearly there is more for the industry and regulators to do to reassure businesses that their data is safe and secure,” Allan concluded. “But equally apparent is the message from small businesses that pricing and terms and conditions need to be much more transparent.”

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