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InfoQ Homepage News Businesses in US Embracing Cloud at Faster Rate than in UK, Survey Shows

Businesses in US Embracing Cloud at Faster Rate than in UK, Survey Shows

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While 94% of businesses consider business process automation an important component of their overall productivity, opinions differ on the role of cloud technologies in automation solutions. According to a new survey conducted on behalf of Redwood Software, the use of cloud technologies differs greatly between the United States and United Kingdom, and among industries.

This survey included the feedback from 300 senior IT decision makers (100 in the UK, 200 in the US) across a wide cross-section of industries, all at organizations with more than 1,000 employees. In a press release about these research results, Redwood Software shared a few top-level findings that highlighted the geographic disparity in cloud adoption.

  • 35% of UK businesses are already using the cloud for private data storage, as opposed to 58% of US businesses
  • 24% of UK businesses are using the cloud for capacity management, compared to 47% in the US
  • About half as many UK organizations have considered a more integrated supply chain using the cloud, versus those in the US (41% vs 81%)
  • Twice as many US organizations are using the cloud to handle the automation of their business processes (30% compared to 14% in the UK)

Of respondents who were not using the cloud to manage business process automation, only 14% of US businesses felt that it wouldn’t give them enough control—compared to 27% of UK businesses—highlighting our British cousins’ trepidation in adopting the technology. Instead, it was “lack of resources” that the US cited as the top reason for not utilizing cloud technology in this way (28%).

UK and US businesses that weren’t using the cloud for any reason had a nearly equal concern (78% vs 75%) about security, and a similar lack of business need (44% vs 38%). However, 56% of UK respondents weren’t using the cloud because of unease about where the data resides, compared to only 13% of Americans. A similar disparity existed in the results concerning the benefits of the cloud. 22% of British companies who weren’t using cloud solutions said that they weren’t aware of the business value. In contrast, no American companies gave that as a reason for not using the cloud.

Tijl Vuyk, the CEO of Redwood Software, explained his takeaway from this survey.

American organizations seem to be worlds ahead in their knowledge, usage and confidence in the cloud. What will be interesting to see is whether this is a sign of things to come for UK businesses, and whether the perceived barriers to cloud adoption can be overcome. It will also be fascinating to monitor the timelines involved with this change in mindset, and whether the UK will ever catch up to the US or whether the US will continue to lead.

This survey also segmented respondents based on the size of their business and it showed that small businesses have less overall process automation, but the same eagerness to use cloud technologies.  Only 13% of businesses with 1000-3000 employees use automated processes for billing/invoicing and just 9% leverage automated solutions for HR/payroll. This contrasts with businesses of greater than 3000 employees where 26% of respondents have automated processes for billing/invoicing and 26% also reported using automation for HR/payroll functions. Both small and large companies see similar benefits to process automation (“time savings”, improved SLA to the business”) and experience the same challenges when trying to automate a process (“integration with legacy applications”, in-house knowledge”). With regards to general cloud usage, small businesses are more likely to leverage cloud for common browser-based applications (40% vs 29%) and public data storage (35% vs 29%). Large companies use the cloud slightly more than small companies for SaaS business applications (27% vs 24%) and to automate business processes including HR, payroll and billing (27% vs 24%). Agility (66% vs 59%) and faster ROI (54% vs 46%) are cloud benefits experienced more frequently by small businesses,  while large businesses see a greater benefit in reduced labor costs (45% vs 34%) and lower energy costs (41% vs 29%).

Results of this survey were also broken down by industry. Some results were not surprising. 40% of financial services companies claim to automate over 50% of their business process and IT tasks, while only 17% of manufacturing companies could say that. Just 33% of retail companies in the US and UK thought that they’d benefit from further IT process automation, while 63% of financial services companies saw benefits in additional automation. When it comes to cloud usage, manufacturing companies used the most SaaS business applications (36% vs 13% for retail and 29% for financial services) and retail companies had the highest usage of cloud for hosting company software (41% vs 31% for financial services and 32% for manufacturing). All sectors found benefits to using the cloud, with manufacturing companies appreciating the fast ROI and financial services companies enjoying the reduced labor costs.

This survey shows that across geographies, company sizes, and industries that the same cloud concerns and benefits exist, albeit with different degrees of importance. Worries about cloud security and data management abound, but companies remain optimistic about the agility and ROI that the cloud has to offer.

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