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Grow Your Business Technology

Cloud Users of the Future: Which Will You Be?

Cloud Users of the Future: Which Will You Be?
Credit: Lsmagilov/Shutterstock

The majority of small businesses are about to take the next step in cloud computing, new research shows.

As small businesses become more and more comfortable with cloud technology in the coming years, they will shift from using it solely to improve efficiency to using it in ways that will cause the emergence of completely new business models, according to a report from Intuit and Emergent Research.

"This report paints a detailed picture of how small businesses will increasingly use cloud technology not only for efficiency gains, but also in more transformative ways that redefine the rules for achieving long-term success," Terry Hicks, vice president and general manager of QuickBooks Online Ecosystem at Intuit, said in a statement. "Whether you're a tech startup in Silicon Valley or a mom-and-pop shop on Main Street, cloud technology presents both radically new opportunities and potentially disruptive changes."

The research shows that by the year 2020, nearly 80 percent of U.S. small businesses will be fully adapted to cloud computing, which is more than double the current rate of 37 percent. [Keeping Your Data Safe in the Cloud: 6 Things to Consider]

The study uncovered and detailed the four new types of small businesses, that, when fully adapted to the cloud, will move from passive to active use of the technology:

  • Plug-in players: These are small businesses that will adjust to the cloud by taking advantage of specialized services that can be seamlessly integrated into back-office operations. Instead of spending time and effort on the nuts and bolts of finance, marketing and human resources, cloud-adapted small businesses will plug into cloud-based providers who deliver comprehensive, tailored solutions, giving small business operators the ability to focus on mission-critical areas of business.
  • Hives: These cloud-adapted small businesses will increasingly be made up of employees who share talent to form a team. The businesses will operate virtually, with employees working in different locations. They will have flexible staffing levels that can rise and fall to meet project needs. For example, independent contractors will use virtual spaces to connect and market themselves, while small manufacturers and producers may share a commercial facility.
  • Head-to-headers: These cloud-adapted small businesses will compete head-to-head with major firms, using the growing number of platforms and plug-in services to reach markets that were previously only accessible to large corporations. An example of this type of platform currently in use is Airbnb, which provides individuals with the ability to reach a mass market through community infrastructure.
  • Portfolioists: These are cloud-adapted freelancers who will bring together multiple income streams to create career portfolios. They will be workers who start with a passion, or specific skill, and are motivated primarily by the desire to live and work according to their values, passions and convictions. They will increasingly build personal empires in the cloud, finding previously unseen opportunities for revenue generation.

"Today, the U.S. and global economy are going through a series of shifts and changes that are reshaping the economic landscape," said Steve King of Emergent Research. "In this new landscape, many people are using the power of the cloud to reimagine the idea of small business and create new, innovative models that work for their needs."

The study is the first in a new Dispatches from the New Economy research series, a comprehensive project exploring the ways economic, technological and social shifts will shape the future of small business success. The series tracks trends in small business, building on a 10-year partnership between Emergent Research and Intuit.

Originally published on Business News Daily

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.

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