New figures show that the number of contractors and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) using cloud computing has grown. A survey from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and BT Business reveals that cloud-based computing and smartphones are changing the way in which SMEs do business, helping them to level the playing field against larger competitors.
Results from the survey show that of the 319 businesses questioned, 69% already used cloud services. This allows people to work remotely and access vital data wherever they are. 53% of the respondents said having cloud access was critical to continuing current working practices.
When businesses were questioned about the cloud services they use, it was shown that the average firm utilises six cloud applications each month. 79% said they expected to see rising demand over the coming year, with 83% saying they now preferred using the cloud over more traditional computing networks; for example, many believe that modern software is easier to use. 68% said that smartphones have had a major and positive effect on their businesses over the past year, followed by increasingly efficient Wi-Fi and access to cloud services.
BT Business's managing director of SMEs in the UK, Danny Longbottom, explained: “Technology is at the heart of a lot of the dramatic changes we're seeing within the UK SME market ‒ whether that's offering the realistic possibility of working from home, increasing the effectiveness of people when they're out of the office or opening up new markets, both in the UK and internationally. At the heart of these new innovations is an increased level of flexibility and mobility. This should be of particular interest to contractors, who may need to access files while visiting clients, or keep track of office administration while out and about.”
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that 2.4 million employees were working at home after new legislation was brought in during 2014, which allowed any employee with over 26 weeks' service to request flexible working options. As a result, many more people are now working from home at least some of the time; in fact, 91% of the survey respondents said at least one employee now works remotely, with 19% revealing half their workforce conduct roles away from the office.
The online economy in the UK has now been valued at £28bn, which shows the growing use of modern technologies as the distinction between home and work becomes increasingly blurred.
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