In what should come as welcome news to cloud service providers (CSPs) across the country, the latest figures by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that more than half of businesses in Australia paid for cloud computing in the 2019-20 financial year.
In fact, 55 per cent of all businesses reported the use of paid cloud computing in the year ending 30 June 2020, compared to just 42 per cent in the 2017-18 financial year, according to the latest Characteristics of Australian Business report from the ABS.
The use of paid cloud computing increased with each consecutive employment size category, according to the ABS, with 81 per cent of businesses claiming 200 or more employees reporting using cloud.
The findings should, perhaps, come as little surprise. In November 2019, analyst firm Gartner predicted that Australian spending on public cloud services would grow by 18.3 per cent, year-on-year, in 2020, outpacing the increase in global spending at 17 per cent, year-on-year.
Since then, Gartner has estimated that spending on public cloud services in Australia could reach $10.6 billion by the end of 2021, an increase of 18.4 per cent from a year ago, following a push for the technology driven by the coronavirus pandemic.
Overall, 69 per cent of all businesses recorded using one or more information and communication technology (ICT) offering in FY2019-20, with businesses claiming 200 or more employees -- 95 per cent -- most likely to report using one or more ICT product or service.
Cloud technology and cyber security software were the most common IT product and service categories used by businesses, the former noted by 57 per cent of businesses surveyed and the latter 26 per cent.
The year captured was the first time the ABS asked businesses to report on the selected ICT products and services they used. As such, there is no indication as to how the FY2019-20 figures compare to prior years.
At the same time, and contrary to the general perception that cyber security incidents have been on the rise over the past few years, the proportion of businesses that reported internet security incidents or breaches continued to decline in FY2019-20 – by 8 per cent, in fact.
Admittedly, this was a narrower fall than in previous years, with FY2017-18 seeing an 11 per cent decline and FY2015-16 seeing a 16 per cent.
It should be noted that internet security incidents or breaches intercepted by businesses security measures were excluded in the ABS tally.
Clearly, businesses have been boosting their cyber game.
In FY2019-20, a fifth (20 per cent) of all businesses reported having upgraded their cyber security software, standards or protocols as part of their management practices for the use of IT.
In more welcome news for IT service provider partners in general, one of the top factors among Australian businesses in the 2019-20 financial year that limited them from using IT was lack of skills.
According to the ABS, 13 per cent of businesses reported that the lack of skilled people within the business was a limiting factor, potentially opening up the door for greater partner engagement.
Other factors included unsuitable internet speed, also with 13 per cent of businesses pointing to this as a limiting factor.
Meanwhile, 12 per cent pf businesses cited uncertainty around cost and benefit, and 12 per cent flagged insufficient knowledge of IT.