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UK SMEs take the lead in cloud adoption

The UK's small-and-medium-sized enterprises are taking a global lead when it comes to embracing new software technology - and they are benefiting as a result.

These are some of the findings of a research study commissioned by Exact that compares how SMEs in different countries stack up against each other when it comes to technology adoption.

The Exact 2015 SME Cloud Barometer polled almost 3,000 SME leaders across the UK, the USA, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. It found that those who are "heavy" users of cloud software (defined as having three or more different cloud products in place) achieved far higher revenue growth and more than double the profit of those using fewer cloud products.

The study also found that the UK has the second highest number of "heavy" cloud software users (27%), just marginally behind the USA (29%). This compares to 25% of SMEs in the Netherlands, 24% in Belgium and France, and 10% in Germany. Overall, just under half of UK SMEs (47%) are now using at least one cloud business software tool.

Those who have embraced the cloud and are using multiple software products as part of their business processes showed on average 26% growth in revenue in 2015, compared to 14% among those using one or two online solutions, and 10% among those who don't use any cloud solutions at all.

However, the study also found that UK firms only tend to use new software when they have to, such as when old solutions need replacing. Only 10% of UK firms said they "actively look for new solutions that help us grow" - the lowest number among any of the comparison countries.

Cost saving is the primary reason for investing in cloud software for UK SMEs (32%); SMEs in the other countries studied cited better security as the main driver, particularly in Germany (36%). Across the board, easy access to information was cited as the third biggest benefit for moving processes online.

"Few business leaders would argue with the fact that having the right software tools in place can be vital to success," said Erik van der Meijden, CEO of Exact. "In fact, 63% of the SMEs who took part said they felt that technology is going to have a strong impact on the competitive landscape in their market over the next three years."

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