As a small or medium-sized business it can be difficult to choose the most appropriate technology for your needs. Cloud computing is one of several options, and it’s one that can seem like the ideal choice for an SME, but is that the truth?

It seems that not all UK businesses are finding the cloud as useful as you might imagine. Research Without Barriers (RWB) recently found that the cloud is falling short of many companies’ expectations.

Cloud Pro reported that, for example, less than half (44 per cent) of the businesses that responded to the survey said that the cloud had met their expectations in terms of flexibility.

A similar percentage (43 per cent) said that the cloud had met their expectations in terms of increased security, but again that leaves over half of respondents where the technology fell short in this regard.

And less than one-third (31 per cent) believe that their business has been able to make efficiencies as a result of embracing cloud computing.

Jon Wrennall, CTO at Advanced, told the news provider that the cloud is “fast becoming the preferred choice for positive digital disruption”. However, he added that it doesn’t seem to be providing businesses with what they need “on a number of levels”.

He continued: “This is a concern because the cloud can – and should – deliver these benefits and more.”

Mr Wrennall stressed that it’s time to look at whether companies are getting “distracted by hyped-up cloud tools” and are therefore failing to prioritise their needs and what software can deliver that.

It’s also important for businesses of all sizes to seek the support they need when introducing cloud services and integrating them into the organisation.

“The right strategy and guidance will help organisations get the maximum benefits from the cloud as well as dictate what business functions they should migrate to the cloud because, in certain cases, some functions are actually best kept on-premises,” Mr Wrennall added.

In many cases, that will involve running multiple software solutions to solve the various business needs.

Among SMEs, 53 per cent said that it’s not possible to meet the needs of every department with a single software solution.

But if you’re going to use multiple software solutions you need to ensure they’re properly integrated to get the productivity and efficiency gains you require.

This appears to be something that many businesses are struggling with, given that 70 per cent of those who responded to the RWB survey cited integration between business software as one of the main barriers to digital transformation at their firm.

Getting help with IT strategy in London could be the first step towards making this transition smoother and ensuring that you’re not only using the software you have to the best of your abilities, but also that this software is right for your business and its needs.

It’s not only private businesses that are embracing the cloud. Insider.co.uk recently reported that public cloud spending is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years.

According to the latest update of the International Data Corporation (IDC) Public Cloud Services spending guide, public spending on the cloud is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 23.3 per cent between now and 2023.

That will mean £400 billion being spent annually on this technology by 2023, a significant increase on the £184 billion recorded in 2019.

The report noted that the public cloud is becoming increasingly important for certain operations, and is becoming “integral” in some areas.

However, this can present challenges as CIOs and others working with IT have to find a way to integrate the new, cloud-based systems with the legacy systems at their organisation.

Another thing that all organisations, whether public or private, need to bear in mind is how to maintain their security when using cloud-based systems or software.

Software as a service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) are both becoming increasingly popular products in the public sector, the news provider added.

However, despite businesses not always feeling as though their needs are being met by the cloud, and there being teething problems in some cases, the UK is leading the way when it comes to cloud adoption.

This is the finding of research conducted by Infosys recently. IT Pro Portal covered the report, where 876 executives said that the UK was a “torchbearer” for the cloud because businesses here are rapidly integrating it into their operations.

One of the things that stood out among the companies performing well with their cloud solutions is that they all had “an enterprise-wide cloud strategy”. This indicates that businesses are taking its adoption seriously and want to make sure they introduce it in the right way.

“Cloud initiatives have mushroomed across the enterprise as businesses recognise the inevitability of cloud computing in their quest for digital transformation,” executive vice president and head of cloud & infrastructure at Infosys Narsimha Rao Mannepalli told the news provider.

Although this transition to the cloud will present challenges, the long-term benefits of making the shift have been proven by the enterprises leading the way in this regard.

The survey identified the main drivers behind cloud adoption as emerging technology, competitive activity and the overall desire and need to make cost savings.

Working with a specialist IT business to help introduce the cloud to your company is a good way to go. It can help manage your expectations of the cloud and ensure that you choose the right software products for the needs of your business and its workers.

One of the keys is looking at your IT needs in the wider context of your business. In doing so, you’ll not only ensure that the software you purchase does what you need it to, but that it also  integrates with your existing software platforms.

You’ll also need to dedicate some time to training your staff on the new systems, and particularly the security side of things now that GDPR is in force and consumers are becoming ever more aware of the consequences of a data breach at an organisation.