Telcos could stand to realise up to $22 billion (€19.6 billion) from offering cloud services to small enterprises, a new study has concluded.

A report from cloud provider BSCG claimed operators who diversify their cloud services for SMEs stand to cash in on a growing demand from “a captive and willing audience.”

In an independent study of 5,000 SMES in the US and the UK, 43 percent of all respondents said that they would be willing to purchase cloud services from their incumbent service provider. Meanwhile, 40 percent said they would be happy to purchase software and other tools from operators to help them grow their business.

Telcos who are willing to speak with SMEs about their specific needs are particularly well-positioned to benefit from growing demand from the sector, BCSG found, with confusion still rife amongst enterprises over the most appropriate cloud services to choose.

Tom Platt, Commercial Director at BCSG, said: “It is vital that operators seize the initiative by helping their SMB customers realise the value of cloud services and business applications.

“Healthy dialogue already exists between SMBs and operators on key technology decisions. But at the same time, confusion persists amongst SMBs on what cloud innovation can offer and why they should adopt business apps.

“Operators have a unique opportunity to provide support and guidance to SMBs and play a significant role in their ongoing prosperity.”

However, BCSG warned operators had to improve the level of customer service they offered small business customers.

According to the report, 42 percent of respondents claimed they currently received no help from their telecoms operator whatsoever, while over half said they were considering switching provider within the next two years.

[Read more: Deutsche Telekom wants European cloudco as telcos told: help local businesses]

Platt said: “Long tenure from SMB customers does not imply loyalty – and operators can’t afford to be complacent. These results demonstrate the value of operators broadening their service offering to SMBs.

“This should see operators accelerate their plans to offer a fuller range of cloud services, including business apps, to SMBs and drive new revenues and better customer retention.”

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