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SMBs Confident In Economy Despite Some Cloud Services Challenges

Perhaps entrepreneurs are eternal optimists. Indeed, small business owners sound upbeat about the opportunities ahead -- despite rising healthcare costs, quest marks about Obamacare's future, potential changes to the U.S. tax plan... and some lingering concerns about cloud services.

Indeed, 76 percent of SMBs feel encouraged about the prospects for new business and 59 percent plan to add jobs within the next six months, according to a recent survey from Right Networks. The survey, involving 364 SMBs and accounting professionals, represents potential good news for IT service providers.

More than half of the respondents (51%) feel “cautiously optimistic” about their business while 48 percent consider themselves confident or bullish. Moreover, 39 percent of respondents pointed to spending more time building relationships with clients as a factor in finding fulfillment in their work. Amid those upbeat signals, SMBs may need to expand their per-seat contracts for managed and cloud services, ChannelE2E suspects.

Cloud Services: Growing... But

Although cloud services have gone mainstream, some entrepreneurs and SMBs still have lingering concerns about SaaS and other on-demand IT services. Indeed,

  • 21 percent said cost was a barrier to implementing a cloud-based solution;
  • 53 percent said security was an issue; and
  • another 46 percent named workflow disruption as a problem.

“It’s clear from the survey that several concerns still stand in the way of SMBs and the leap to cloud technology that can take all of them to that next level of productivity,” Rachel Krug, director of product marketing at Right Networks, said in a prepared statement. “These results also show that SMBs are taking many factors into careful consideration before making the substantial commitment to the cloud." Not by coincidence, Right Networks wants to help SMBs with those cloud transitions.

Additional Signs Of Optimism

Meanwhile, there's additional optimism elsewhere. For instance, nearly 50 percent of global fund managers expect above-trend growth and below-trend inflation to continue, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey.

It’s a situation that’s been dubbed the Goldilocks economy because it’s not too hot and not too cold. Interestingly, that’s the highest proportion recorded in the history of the survey. We’re also seeing similar readings of the Canadian economy.

Meanwhile, the latest University of Michigan consumer sentiment index -- a respected economic gauge -- climbed to a 13-year high. The index showed big gains for current economic conditions as well as expectations. The report showed the increased was shared across all age and income subgroups and from all partisan viewpoints.

Global Outlook

Optimism isn’t solely relegated to the United States right now, either. For example, analysts are still positive about economic conditions in Germany, despite the index coming in lower than forecast. Outlooks are higher in smaller economies like Poland and Cyprus as well.

Indeed, IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton, addressing experts in Munich recently, spoke about the health of the global economy.

“The bottom line is that the global recovery is strengthening,” he said. “That provides an environment of opportunity to address key policy issues that can help support stronger and more sustainable growth—and foster the financial stability essential to the health of the global economy.”

The IMF released its latest World Economic Outlook, updated on a quarterly basis. It forecasts a 3.6 percent uptick in global growth this year and 3.7 percent next year.

So the climate seems right for SMBs to be doubling down on investing in their companies. If they can just crack the cloud barrier one can imagine even more growth and optimism on the horizon.