Security fears put firms off cloud computing

Thursday 19 February 2015

A number of small businesses seem to be sceptical about taking up cloud computing because their concerns about perceived risks outweigh the potential benefits of taking up the technology.

Research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found that 60 per cent of the 1,226 small businesses it surveyed are using cloud computing services, yet the remaining 38 per cent are uncertain about implementing it.

In recent years, cloud computing has been beneficial for a number of limited companies and contractors for a number of reasons. For example, it has cut down their need for hardware and paper usage as they have been able to store documents online. These could then be accessed from anywhere, which gives them more freedom while they are working.

Nevertheless, a number of concerns have also cropped up. The FSB made a list of the top five concerns according to the portion of respondents who cited them. Data theft and loss concerned the highest portion of people, with 61 per cent stating this. Next was reliable access to online services according to 55 per cent followed by uncertainty about who would be able to access the data for 53 per cent, then liability issues troubled 41 per cent and over dependence on cloud computing concerned 33 per cent.

This study followed on from previous work by the FSB, which looked at the benefits of using technology in business as well as the barriers to taking up these new ways of working. It argues that taking up technology could help to improve productivity.

The FSB says that the barriers to taking up technology need to be addressed so that more companies can get the benefits of cloud computing.

Supporting the idea that cloud computing could help firms, a 2012 study by the European Commission report found that 80 per cent of organisations could see costs reduced by between ten or 20 per cent if they were to adopt the technology.

As well as bringing down their level of expenses, firms could also enhance their green credentials by switching to cloud computing. According to a separate study, the carbon footprint of small firms could be reduced by up to 90 per cent if they were to move tasks online.

Speaking about the results of the FSB study, national chairman for the FSB John Allan said: "Many small businesses are recognising the advantages of cloud computing services, but there remains a great deal of concern that sensitive data may not be secure or the service not reliable. Businesses don't want to transition to cloud based systems without knowing who will be liable if something goes wrong. As our previous research has shown, there are significant gains to be made from using this technology so it is imperative more is done to address firm's understandable reservations and remove barriers to take-up."

The study showed that the most commonly used cloud computing service is storing files online, with 74 per cent of respondents doing this. Web based email and calendars is used by 67 per cent, file sharing by 64 per cent, web based office software by 38 per cent and invoicing services by 37 per cent.

By Victoria McDonnell

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