The rise of cloud-based services, mobile devices and social media at work is benefitting small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) in so many ways. As smartphones and tablets have become ubiquitous in our home and business lives, the pace, scope and capacity of work has increased – but it has also left SMBs struggling to cope with a number of IT headaches at once. And if this wasn’t already enough, the fallout from Snowden and a rise in cyber crime targeted at small business is leading to calls for a more vigilant regulatory environment that won’t hesitate to make an example of anyone large or small found responsible for data breaches.

Around 2.5 billion people have connected to the internet in AVG’s lifetime. Of course the great majority of these are consumers but a substantial number are also small businesses.  And the pace is only accelerating. Over the next 4-7 years there will be another 2.5 billion people connecting to the internet resulting in a global SMB market that is potentially twice the size it is today.

A key role for AVG and the IT industry in general will be to help all these users understand how to get the best from technology while preventing it from complicating their lives.  In the past 12 months there has been no shortage of industry research highlighting SMB issues to refer to.  Our own study of SMBs last year showed that 1-in-3 SMBs do not understand cloud services while around 1-in-5 thought cloud services were exclusively for large companies.  Even more remarkable was the revelation that SMBs spend up to 10% of their time trying to resolve IT problems.

Elsewhere just 6% of SMBs say their organization is ready for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) adoption and almost a third do not have even a basic BYOD policy in place. 90% of U.S. employees used their personal smartphones for work within the past year and 39% of employee’s personal devices are not password-protected. According to SMB Group social media use by small businesses with fewer than 100 employees surged from 44% to 53% in the year 2012-2013 while Inc Magazine reported that employees who use social networks are the most productive and stay in their jobs the longest.  And on the subject of cybercrime, the UK’s Federation of Small Business reports 41% of members have been a victim of cybercrime in the last 12 months at an average cost of £4,000 per business.  Around three in 10 members have been a victim of fraud, typically by a customer or client (13%) or through ‘card not present’ fraud (10%).

So what can SMBs do about it?

Well they could do it for themselves – and some are as we have seen – but we recommend they retain the services of a trusted IT provider. And it’s here that we believe we offer the best cloud based IT management portfolio for small businesses anywhere in the market. To this end we are working hard to integrate AVG CloudCare™ and AVG Managed WorkPlace® to help small businesses take back control of their IT issues.

That’s why this week we are unveiling a first taste of small business integrated IT management at the Global 2014 launch event in New York. The integrated service module allows AVG CloudCare partners with the AVG Managed Workplace Remote Management & Monitoring (RMM) platform to protect and secure their customer environments from within a single Managed Workplace dashboard. It’s the first AVG CloudCare™ service module to be integrated within AVG Managed WorkPlace® since AVG acquired the business of LPI Level Platforms at the end of June. The integrated service module shows our commitment to Managed Workplace customers. It is also a measure of the strength of the Service Module architecture that has enabled us to bring two products together within a short period of time to deliver enhanced value for our partners.

Our message is that SMBs who opt to let their trusted IT provider manage their systems can benefit from integrated cloud-based protection that is affordable and simple-to-use. By giving Managed WorkPlace MSPs tools like the new integrated AVG CloudCare Managed Workplace service module we can help them ensure their small business customers stay protected at all times. Through our program of continued open platform integration, our ultimate aim is to make the lives of MSPs and their small business customers as easy as possible, regardless of whether staff are in the office, at home, or on the road.