Primus has just released the results of a Canadian survey on SMB cloud use. The survey of 300 SMBs (5-99 employees), conducted by Leger, looks at business and IT functions that are currently performed in the cloud.
The top-level data finds that 46% of SMBs are using at least one cloud service today. It's difficult to validate this kind of finding, as cloud is at the root of many services (LinkedIn, Gmail, Facebook, etc.) that are integrated into both personal and professional activities. As a discrete category of business focus, though, this result is consistent with feedback collected by the TCBC Planning for the Cloud/Cloud Strategy: SMB working group.
The most compelling part of the "Embracing the cloud" whitepaper is the section presenting data on which functions/departments are finding benefit from the cloud today. "Employee communications & collaboration" (55%) was the most common response, followed by sales/marketing (presumably, driven by CRM/Salesforce) and telecommunications; lower usage levels were reported for finance and accounting and HR/payroll. This is an interesting perspective, one which again jibes with data from other sources. Work that InsightaaS has done with Techaisle on the US market has shown that collaboration is much more often file-centric than telecom/voice communication-centric; it isn't surprising that the survey found a bias towards non-telecommunications interaction. Over time, one might expect the finance/accounting use of cloud to grow, as all SMBs have a requirement to account for revenue and expense and communicate this activity to accountants and tax authorities, and it is easier to extend "collaboration" to these third parties than to use traditional paper-based communications - indeed, the Techaisle research has shown that one of the reasons why communication and collaboration is an important cloud category is because it allows for interaction not just between SMB employees, but also with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.
InsightaaS and the TCBC will be releasing the results of a different survey of 300 Canadian businesses (ranging from 1-19 employee microbusinesses to 500-999 and 1000+ employee enterprises) to compare Canadian adoption rates, trends, drivers, inhibitors and attitudes to a parallel sample of 848 US SMBs. This data will no doubt add to our overall understanding of where and how cloud benefits Canadian business, and how use of cloud is changing. As a starting point, though, the Primus/Leger data is a great way of obtaining hard-to-find Canadian data on the role of cloud in the SMB economy.