The advent of Cloud Computing and other technology advancements have raised the bar for the SMB — the small to medium sized business — looking to thrive in a competitive marketplace. Efficient workflows and capabilities that only used to be the domain of the large enterprise are now attainable for the businesses of all sizes. But what makes up a typical technical profile for these small and medium size businesses?
What Defines a Small to Medium Sized Business?
When trying to define a small to medium sized business what criteria are used? Is it merely the number of employees, or does their annual sales come into play as well? In most cases, the number of employees is used to officially define a small business, and that number of employees actually varies by country.
The European Union caps the number at 50 employees to earn special taxation statuses, while the United States Government’s Small Business Administration allows for up to 500 employees with a yearly revenue cap of $7 million. Both the number of employees and revenue caps vary (normally higher) depending on the industry. So in the U.S., small businesses sometimes aren’t really that small, and it is a number that is frankly difficult to tie down.
Medium sized business lie somewhere between small and larger enterprises in their demographics. Expect most medium businesses to employ anywhere from 200-1000 persons, especially if the SBA’s cap on small businesses isn’t strictly considered. The revenue estimates for medium sized organizations vary widely — anywhere from a few million dollars per year, all the way to $500 million annually depending on the source.
A Typical SMB Technical Profile in the Cloud?
In the days before Cloud Computing, a workstation-to-server ratio sometimes provided a meaningful metric to gauge the technical profile of a small to medium sized business. As more companies of all sizes are eschewing on-premise networks in favor of Cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) business models, many medium sized businesses don’t even have one server in-house for upwards of a few hundred employees.
In fact, the micro-sized business of 1-10 employees can leverage Cloud-based solutions to achieve efficiencies formerly available to larger enterprises. The personal Cloud storage company, Dropbox, has a business level service offering that gives small firms the ability to manage workflows, control document versioning, as well as other Enterprise-class features. Today’s technical profile for a SMB shows an increasing Cloud adoption rate, like this 2011 SMB study from Microsoft that showed the number of small to medium sized companies using Cloud services increased from 29 to 39 percent.
There is little doubt that the SMB drives the overall health of the economy with innovation and spirit. Expect many smaller businesses to continue to take advantage of the Cloud to continue to achieve operational improvements helping them to better compete in the marketplace.