In today’s technology centric world organisations of all sizes are turning to remote working to drive forward their businesses. Increasingly we are living in an always-on, mobile world where the need to work from anywhere, using any device, is critical.

A recent report by IDC says that SMB cloud spending will grow by nearly 20% over the next five years. The report also cites web hosting and hosted email as early examples of cloud computing that were fully embraced by many SMBs prior to the popularisation of the term ‘cloud computing’.

Recent research undertaken to help understand the challenges, opportunities and concerns around cloud adoption for SMEs showed that 33% of SMEs are currently using the cloud for email and 33% are also using it for storage and back-up. Other cloud applications being used include accounting and billing (15%), HR (14%) and CRM (14%).

By delivering cost-effective, on-demand computing opportunities, the cloud is dissolving the advantages long held by larger enterprises, while levelling the playing field for SMBs around the world.

For SMBs, the cloud is far more than just the latest trend. It has become a tool that is fundamentally reshaping how they run their businesses and the results they are able to achieve. A study by Microsoft found that most 63% of growing businesses believe that cloud technology is critical to their future success. The same study found that lower costs, increased productivity and more flexibility are key motivators for adopting cloud technology.

However, for SMBs it can be tough to achieve this in a cost-effective, yet robust way. At the end of the day, SMBs want an IT system that works, and for many, they want someone else to do it. In much the same way that day-to-day property management is not something that many small – or large – companies want to worry about (and that is why serviced offices have grown in popularity), many businesses are choosing to outsource their IT completely. And thanks to the cloud, this can be quick and easy to achieve.

For companies that want to focus on growing their business rather than running their IT, a hosted desktop service could be the answer. Whether your staff work from multiple office locations, from home – or even whilst on holiday – and you want them to have the same ‘company’ experience regardless of the device they are using, a hosted desktop service could be just what you need. The key benefits are:

  • Cost-effective – every organisation wants controllable IT costs but that can be hard to achieve in a rapidly changing business. The beauty of the hosted desktop solution is that you only pay for what you use, so the budget concern is mitigated.
  • Safe and secure – with news of data breaches and IT hacks hitting the headlines every day, it’s no wonder that IT security is a key concern for businesses. The fact of the matter is that data stored in the cloud is more robust and secure than a small business is likely to be able to implement itself. Hosted desktops are operated in a professionally monitored environment with automated, encrypted backups, stored safely and securely.
  • Remote working – the current tube strikes, bad weather and over-running engineering works would cause minimum disruption in the hosted desktop world. All you need is an Internet connection and you can access your desktop from anywhere, anytime and via any device. The ability to work seamlessly from multiple locations came up as one of the most important issues for small businesses in the WeWorkEverywhere study and over 21% of respondents said this very important for their business.

There is no doubt that demand is growing for reliable, scalable and flexible IT systems that can support the rapidly changing needs of today’s small and growing businesses. The rise of cloud computing and remote working are becoming key focus areas for SME organisations in 2014. The great news is that there are a number of technology platforms and services that take care of SME organisations’ day to day needs and technology progression, so you don’t need to worry about maintenance, licences or upgrades.