CloudWATCH: taking SMEs to the cloud with the European CloudScout

More and more small businesses are using the cloud to access markets more quickly, scale and grow without initial up-front costs needed for tradition IT infrastructures. Organisations that are not using the cloud need to start their cloud journey as soon as possible, particularly small and medium-sized businesses.

This is where CloudWATCH comes into play with the European CloudScout, a novel interactive tool with 14 straightforward questions to help SME managers make a secure transition to the cloud.

The results of our analysis for the period July to August 2015 speak for themselves, demonstrating that the Information and support services for SMEs on the CloudWatchHub.eu directly respond to the very specific needs of SMEs.

As the pan-European Cloud observatory and digital hub, CloudWATCH provides vendor-neutral information on current and emerging cloud services. This is the top information need of the SMEs using CloudScout (44% of respondents).

The CloudScout user statistics show that most SMEs need to have applications and data available around the clock (38%), with an increasing number of employees accessing them outside normal office hours (34%). Moving to the cloud would therefore be a vital step for CloudScout businesses users, who are well-aware of the business benefits. The top advantages cited by the SMEs are more effective use of IT (42%), cost savings (38%), and having modern and reliable processes in place (28%).

The fact that only 9% of CloudScout users say their business is growing rapidly is a clear sign that dedicated information services and support for SMEs can only be a win-win for Europe and its digital single market.

So what is stopping them moving to the cloud?

Size is a key factor. Most of the SME CloudScout users have fewer than 10 employees (36%). While most companies feel they have a “good” to “very good” knowledge of the cloud, they do not usually have an IT manager or security expert. This reflects the European Commission’s statistics on European SMEs, which are typically micro firms, a fact that CloudWATCH takes very seriously.

According to the CloudScout statistics, lack of specialised staff directly impacts on their inability to implement adequate security and data protection measures. Not surprisingly, major concerns stopping them from using a cloud service are: 3rd-party access to vital company or customer data (30%), service availability, and secure data transmission (25%).

At the end of the survey, users of CloudScout get a downloadable, easy-to-use guide tailored to their specific legal, security and business requirements, as a first important step towards secure transition.

But it doesn’t stop here. CloudWATCH has consulted with some of the best legal experts on cloud computing in Europe for its legal tips and guides especially created for SMEs. These guides clarify contractual issues in a language SMEs can understand, overcoming another barrier to cloud adoption (21%) emerging from our recent analysis.

All in all, CloudWATCH SME tools and services are unlocking the significant economic impact of cloud adoption by SMEs as the lifeblood of the European economy by filling gaps such as lack of specialised staff, time and money. We are now starting to build on results to date with a special SME Champions Pack, launching in October 2015. This is part of our drive towards new services and tools to help businesses map their business requirements against the most relevant cloud services so SMEs don’t have to struggle with the plethora of different services on the market.

About the European CloudScout

CloudScout Europe was officially launched by former European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, in July 2014, in collaboration with Digital Europe, DsiN.de and national trade associations (NTAs). CloudWATCH coordinator Trust-IT Services Ltd has improved the original software, turning it into a multi-lingual tool that individual NTAs can tailor for their SME members and access results to shape their support services.

CloudScout is available in the official national languages of the following countries: European version (English), Austria (German), Belgium (French), Belgium (Dutch), Finland, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Spain, and the UK.