CloudMost small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the U.K. and U.S. aren’t familiar with cloud services or think they’re only for large companies. They’re “missing out on the opportunity to increase productivity and stay more effectively in control of their IT Security” as a result, according to a survey of 1,000 SMBs conducted by Opinion Matters for Internet and mobile security provider AVG Technologies.

Just 25% of SMBs in the two countries are making use of some form of cloud services, AVG found. A similar proportion—22% in the U.K. and 17% in the U.S.–said they thought cloud services were only for large companies.

Less than one-third (31% in the U.K.; 28% in the U.S.) said “they did not understand cloud services at all.” Cost (23% U.K.; 21% U.S.), lack of trust (17% U.K.; 18% U.S.), and overly complicated (nearly 10% in both) were also cited as reasons for not adopting some form of cloud services.

“The research highlights the need to educate SMBs about the benefits that the right cloud services could bring to their businesses,” commented Gene Marks, a small business owner, author and columnist. “It is clear that SMBs are juggling the same challenges as their larger counterparts but are making complex technology decisions without the benefit of an IT department or outside expertise to guide them.”

More than three-quarters of U.K. (77.3%) and U.S. (76.4%) respondents said that they’re “open to technology that makes their life easier. And it turns out that they are already highly dependent on digital information technology and telecom—more than 95% “regularly use up to five pieces of technology in the course of their day-to-day work,” according to AVG’s findings. Nonetheless, significant numbers of SMBs in the U.S. (42%) and U.K. (52%) said they are handling IT tasks themselves, including security, and spending up to four hours per week doing so.

Looking at cloud usage among those SMBs who have adopted them, AVG found that sharing/collaboration tools (64%) was the most popular, with storage (34%) ranking second, and with iPad/mobile apps (32%) coming in third.

Other highlights of AVG’s SMB research findings include:

UK US
Have heard about cloud services but do not understand them 31% 27%
Think cloud services are only for large companies 22% 17%
Are considering adopting in the next 12 months 21% 20%
Have deployed some form of cloud services 21% 25%
Deal with their IT themselves 52% 42%
SMBs who fear data breach/loss 18% 20%

Image courtesy of flickr user JanneM.