There has been some interesting research into the SMB market and how it is likely to fare over the next year. Two things stand out: SMBs are still confused about cloud computing and spending on mobile devices is booming. Elsewhere, EMC has restructured its partner program to target SMBs and WorkSimple releases new performance management app.

SMBs Confused About the Cloud

Despite anecdotal evidence that cloud computing and the idea of cloud computing is filtering down to the SMB level, new research from Virtacore Systems shows what many analysts have argued over the past year -- most SMBs just don’t get it.

Just don’t get it yet, that is. The research also shows that many are amenable to it, if only they knew what it was.

The research is based on a survey that focused on cloud adoption and perceptions among mid-market organizations with between 100 and 1000 employees. Findings suggest a widespread lack of understanding of the definition, role and potential of cloud computing, with more than 64 per cent of mid-market workers readily admitting they do not understand the concept.

And contrary to the assumption within enterprise circles that the market understands the cloud's potential for cost savings, mid-market respondents actually point at lack of budget as the top barrier to adoption of cloud-based applications and services, with 47 per cent citing cost.

Similarly, total yearly cost was cited as the top concern, just behind security in a range of drivers that also included ease and speed of deployment, compliance, visibility and control.

The findings were echoed in research by a company called 7th Sense Research, which carried out similar research for Microsoft recently and which showed that 29 percent of SMBs see the cloud as an opportunity for small business IT to be more strategic; however, only 20 percent of SMBs claim to know what cloud technology is.

SMB Mobile Spending Booms

Meanwhile, the Small Business Group has also been busy with research co-authored by Laurie McCabe as part of the recently completed SMB Group study 2010 Small and Medium Business Mobile Solutions Study into mobile purchasing trends.

The Group performed a detailed analysis of U.S. SMBs' spending on mobile devices, applications and services and showed that in total, SMBs spent approximately US$ 26.1b on mobile solutions and services in 2010.

More significant for providers is that this is forecast to increase annually at a rate of 17 percent for the next few years, with some segments growing much faster than the others.

Voice and data services at the moment make up the largest part of SMBs’ mobile budgets (69%), followed by mobile application spending (12%), mobile devices (11%) and mobile device/application management (8%).

Other important takeaways from the survey and our analysis include:

  • While SMBs currently spend more on devices, growth in mobile management is outpacing spending on the former by roughly 13%.
  • Although SMBs currently spend more on voice and data services than mobile applications, survey results indicate that spending for mobile applications grew about 30% faster than for voice and data services.

There really is a huge amount to take from this report. You can get a full overview here.

EMC Restructures Partner Program

EMC (news, site) has also kicked off the year by targeting the SMB sector, this time by following the examples of Microsoft and Symantec (news, site) and restructuring their partner programs so that not only will partners be able to specialize, but EMC will also  be able to service this market segment better.

That’s what EMC is saying anyway. The news was announced this week with the launch of EMC’s Enhanced Velocity program which increases the number of specialties from three to four: consolidate, advanced consolidate, backup and recovery, and governance and archive. If you want to find out more check out the EMC audio presentation.

WorkSimple Releases Performance App

Performance Management vendor WorkSimple (news, site) has begun the New Year by introducing a new self-service application for teams, departments and SMBs.

The new software is an easy-to-deploy performance management platform for SMBs, helping them connect employees to strategic business objectives.

It comes with features like goal management, anytime performance reviews, team coaching, feedback, goal libraries and performance collaboration.

A real-time enterprise application that is social and built in the cloud, Work Simple’s self-service speeds up the application activation process by eliminating the complexity of consulting, custom fields and workflow, reducing deployment times to a day instead of weeks.

New users can sign-up to a free, 30-day trial, after which pricing begins at US$ 60 per user per year.