Missing from the cloud: Asia's SMEs
SMEs are the missing factor in Asia’s cloud development.
The huge number of SMEs, the millions jobs they create and their flexibility and adaptability make them important economic drivers in every Asian market.
The definition of ‘SME’ varies from country to country, but small and medium businesses account for 90% of all Asian enterprises and employ as much as 60% of any single country's workforce (APEC 2011).
It is true that SMEs have benefited from the recent ‘consumerisation’ of IT – the arrival, for example, of cost-saving apps like Skype, or technologies like smartphones, that were first adopted by consumers.
But small business owners are often deterred by the cost and complexity of new ICT technologies. That’s because enterprise IT innovations traditionally have been targeted at large organizations that have the scale and resources, including IT teams, to take advantage of them. For SME’s these technologies are out of reach.
Public cloud services, with their low startup costs and pay-as-you-go charging, should find a much more willing market among SMEs, yet that hasn’t been the case.
Clearly, price is a problem in developing economies. A Salesforce Cloud Enterprise account could cost as much as half the annual income of an SME owner in Indonesia.
But other issues, such as awareness, trust and understanding of cloud technology, also appear to be factors.
To find out just what is slowing SME cloud take-up, we are commissioning a research project to reach out to small business owners, cloud vendors and key government agencies and to report back within four months.
The report will canvass the accessibility of cloud services in each market, and will form the basis of a Cloud SME Index which will estimate the market size in each country and the segments with the fastest cloud take-up.
There’s a good deal of work involved, but this is a segment too important to ignore. We believe that the cloud can be a game changer for SME’s, that will enable innvovation and create entirely new business models, just like the PC, the Internet and mobile technologies have.