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Survey finds half of Canadian small businesses now use cloud-based services

Primus: Vast majority of cloud users report reaping real benefits, but untapped potential due to low understanding and technology fears

TORONTO, OCT 7, 2015 – Canadian small businesses are proving themselves to be fast adopters of new technologies in the race to compete against larger companies, according to a recent national survey. This study reveals both the benefits entrepreneurs are currently gaining from cloud-based services and the barriers they face in building competitive advantage through technology.

Conducted by Leger on behalf of Primus Telecommunications Canada (Primus), this national online survey, entitled Embracing the Cloud: Cloud services create small business edge, provides insights into the strategies small companies are using to gain cost and efficiency advantages against large corporate competitors. The “cloud,” or cloud computing, gives businesses convenient, on-demand access to a shared pool of computing resources, accessible via any desktop, mobile or laptop device over an Internet connection, to access secure data storage, business software or telecommunication services.

“Today, small businesses must satisfy ever-rising customer expectations and keep their costs down to match the advantages of large corporations,” says Brad Fisher, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Product, Primus. “Fortunately, Canadian entrepreneurs are discovering that cloud-based services can help them compete, by empowering them with anywhere, anytime access to flexible, mobile business tools and resources that simplify their IT infrastructure, reduce their business costs, and help them deliver top notch service.”

Vast majority of small businesses quickly reap cloud benefits
Although the majority (54%) of surveyed small businesses only started using these services within the past two years, a large number of these cloud users are already seeing the benefits. According to the survey:

  • 46% of Canadian small businesses are using at least one cloud-based function.
  • 94% of IT decisions-makers have seen at least one benefit as a result of using cloud services.
  • 86% of cloud-service users say their business processes have improved.
  • 47% say they have experienced unexpected positive business changes by moving to the cloud.

“It’s remarkable that small businesses are reporting positive impacts so quickly after adopting cloud-based services, but it comes down to the fact that managers soon find themselves dealing with fewer issues than before,” observes Fisher. “They spend less time managing, deploying and maintaining their technology and telecom infrastructure, so they can focus on other critical parts of their business.”

Communication, sales & service are top cloud uses
The survey also revealed that enthusiasm for the cloud is greatest among companies with 20-49 employees (55% have cloud-based operations) and among companies with $10 million or more in annual revenues (61%).

“These companies are in the midst of their fastest growth phase and they must keep up with the competitive pressures from large companies,” explains Fisher. “They may not be ready for large hardware or software investments, but cloud services enable them to access and scale the same functionality without diverting their capital from their growth plans.”

Fisher adds that the most popular cloud-based tools among Canadian small businesses are ones that satisfy employee collaboration, sales and marketing, telecommunications, accounting and human resources.

Cloud awareness high, but room to improve understanding
While Canadian small businesses in general demonstrated a high level of familiarity with cloud services, there is room for improvement.

Fisher points out that, “Although most small businesses could identify key cloud-based services, like storing back-up copies of business files and data in the cloud to avoid business disruption or to reduce physical storage needs, far fewer are familiar with services that could drive better service, productivity or cost savings in their business.” For example, 60% are familiar with the ability to access business applications, software and tools in the cloud, and only 42% are familiar with accessing telecom services via the cloud, such as phone systems and call centre applications.

Security, privacy and perceptions are barriers to cloud adoption
With 52% of Canadian small businesses still not using any cloud-based function, the survey traced their hesitancy to embrace the cloud to several reasons:

  • 40% of non-users of the cloud admit to being not very or not at all familiar with cloud-based services.
  • 49% say they are somewhat familiar with cloud-based services.
  • 9% of non-users of the cloud say they are very familiar with these services.
  • 35% worry about the privacy and security of data in the cloud.

With 62% of small businesses stating that they are behind the curve when it comes to adopting new technology, they point to hurdles in accessing the same new technologies that large companies use:

  • Only 46% of small businesses feel that best-in-class IT tools and services are just as accessible to small businesses as large ones.
  • Only 30% feel that small businesses receive the same level of service from IT vendors as do large businesses.

Fisher concludes that, despite the challenges of understanding and accessing cloud-based services, cloud use is ready to skyrocket among Canadian small businesses: “With more than a third of non-cloud users intending to adopt the cloud in the next two years, and three-quarters of current users saying they intend to adopt more services in that timeframe, small businesses are well positioned to reap the benefits of cloud-based services.”

About the survey
Embracing the Cloud: Cloud services create small business edge, was conducted on behalf of Primus Telecommunications by the Leger Intelligence Group. The online survey of n=300 IT decision makers employed at Canadian small businesses (5–99 employees) was conducted using Leger’s online panel, LegerWeb, between June 29 and July 5, 2015. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/–5.7% 19 times out of 20.

About Primus Telecommunications Canada Inc.
Primus is the largest independent telecommunications service provider in Canada. Primus offers a wide selection of consumer and business telecommunications services available nationwide including Home Phone, Internet, Long Distance, VoIP, Enterprise IP Voice Solutions, Hosted Phone Systems, (Hosted PBX), Dedicated Data Access and IP connectivity solutions. In the United States, Primus provides reliable and affordable digital home phone (VoIP) service under the Lingo brand. Primus was founded in 1997 and has over 600 employees located in offices across Canada including Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, London and Edmundston. For further information, visit primus.ca.

For further information please contact:
Denise Gagnon
Broad Reach Communications