Cloud: Enabling SMEs for a stronger European economy
Globally, SMEs are one of the world’s most powerful engines of growth and jobs. It is estimated that 85% of net new jobs in the EU between 2002 and 2010 were created by SMEs, so clearly this community is critical to the overall health of the European economy. It is a community that too often feels its voice isn’t loud or large enough to impact policy level discussions, however we believe that the voice of the SME in EU policy discussions in Brussels is absolutely critical on a number of business issues that impact us all, including topics like privacy and cloud computing.
I had the opportunity to speak to this important community this week at the European Leadership Summit of the IAMCP
(the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners). This is an association that includes 1500 SMEs in Europe and roughly 5000 worldwide across more than 40 countries. The theme of the event was centered on the critical role of European innovative SMEs in the economic regeneration in Europe, as well as the policy framework that is needed to enable their success.
The European ICT sector is responsible for 5% of European GDP, which is €660 billion per year, and it directly contributes far more – 20% – to overall productivity growth, according to the Center for Economic and Business Research. Looking at cloud computing in particular, a new study from IDC released earlier this month estimates that cloud computing could generate about 2 million jobs in the EMEA region by 2015, of which 1 million will come from a group of 8 EU countries.
At Microsoft our corporate mission is to help people, businesses and governments realize their full potential through technology. Cloud computing
is one of the technologies that’s creating amazing new possibilities for companies of all sizes and for governments
that simply weren’t possible just a few years ago, and SMEs are one group which is readily embracing these advantages. One example of this is a small company based in Basel, Switzerland called Plantago Gartenbau
Plantago specializes in helping its clients maximize and bring to life their garden spaces, and it currently has 25 employees serving more than 500 clients. Plantago provides design ideas, construction, planting, and garden care, and its employees are often on-the-go visiting customer sites, so access to information while away from the office was critical. To help address this, with the help of our partner SOLVIS, Plantago recently implemented Microsoft Office 365
, which is a cloud-based set tools such as email, messaging, video conferencing and portal services designed to improve productivity and collaboration from anywhere and through any device. This was a vast improvement over its previous on-premise IT infrastructure, and with information flowing faster, workplace productivity has improved dramatically, and Plantago is better equipped to serve its existing clients and ultimately grow its business even more.
This is one example, but there are many more SMEs who can benefit. Our goal is to provide continuous cloud services for every individual, business and government on the planet. This goal is the evolution of our founder Bill Gates’ original goal to put a PC on every desk and in every home. At the time he outlined this goal, it seemed crazy, but at least in the developed world, it is a reality today. Our goal around the cloud is a decade-plus long term goal, but it’s exactly the kind of goal on which we were founded, and which drives us to continue pushing for the technology and policy innovation that’s needed to make this a reality.
The support of national government and institutions is critical to the success of the cloud
. There is much work to do to remove legislative barriers both at a European and international level, and regulations must be introduced to provide clarity on the critical issues of security, privacy, data portability and business continuity. We forecast that with the appropriate regulatory environment providing answers to these concerns and others, the average SME would be able to hire at least one more employee. With more than 20 million SMEs in Europe, if only one quarter of them could hire one more employee, we could create more than 5 million net new jobs across Europe.
With an efficient regulatory environment in place, new technological innovations such as the cloud will be more trusted and embraced by European consumers, accelerating access to the benefits they can promise to the European economy
. In this context, Microsoft welcomes the European Commission’s efforts to build an efficient regulatory environment for businesses. In particular, I’d like to thank Director General Francoise Le Bail for outlining the benefits of the Commission’s proposal on data protection reform at the event, which we support and look forward to actively engaging with the Commission on the details.
Where Europe succeeds, we succeed
Europe matters to us. For the past thirty years, it’s been our aim to help fuel the European economy with the programs, partnerships, products and services we deliver, through ourselves and others. Our investment has reaped significant return for thousands of new and existing businesses across the continent.