This week we turn back to social media and a new report that shows most companies are still only dabbling with social media as a business tool, while the Parallels 2010 conference confirms what most of us suspect: the SMB cloud market is going to be huge over the next five years.

Dabbling With Social Media

Online marketing consultancy E-Consultancy (news, site) has just published the results of new research that shows that while many companies have looked at social media, the majority of them are still uncommitted and still dabbling.

The Value of Social Media Report, produced by E-consultancy in association with Online Marketing Summit, looks at the level of social media marketing being carried out by organizations, the tactics being used and the business objectives they are trying to impact through related activity.

Based on a survey of over 400 mainly US-based SMBs and enterprises during December and January 2010, it shows that two-thirds of companies (61%) say that they “have experimented with social media, but not done that much.”

Just as startling is the fact that almost two-thirds of respondents (61%) say their organizations are “poor” (34%) or “very poor” (27%) at measuring ROI while a third of respondents (32%) are getting less than 1x the return on investment from social media.

Unsurprisingly Facebook is used by 85% of companies using social media as part of their marketing strategy. This is followed by Twitter (77%), LinkedIn (58%) and YouTube (49%).

If you want to find out more the 59-page report is not expensive. Could it be that social media is not the business tool everyone thinks it is. To see, you can download it from E-Consultancy.

Is Parallels In the Clouds?

According to reports from the Parallels 2010 conference, which is just closing, one of the principal themes running through the week and the Opening Summit Keynotes, is that the SMB sector is going to be the cloud services hot spot for the next five years.

Both Melanie Posey, Research Director at IDC (news, site) and Serguei Beloussov, Chairman and CEO of Parallels addressed the subject in the opening address and both pointed firmly at the word ‘services’ rather than the word ‘cloud’ in underling how big this marketing is actually going to get.

According to the report that appears in cloud services provider iomart hosting’s blog Rack Pack, both insisted that SMBs need services not technology as well as a compelling business reason to spend very tight reserves on further IT services.

SMBs need to buy into the concept of ‘Business as a Service’ if the Cloud is to reap the benefits that the hype suggests will be delivered.

In this respect IDC research shows:

  • Estimated 73.5 million small businesses worldwide
  • 100 million SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) businesses operating across the globe
  • 40% of all IT spend is attributable to the SMB sector
  • 45% of this spend accounted for by businesses with less than 100 employees.

There was a lot more said in this respect during the opening summit that will provide food for thought for many cloud services providers.