How does your small business\u2019s use of technology compare to other SMBs? A new study of small and midsized businesses\u2019 use of IT has sought to find out. Here are some results from Cloud Computing and the Role of IT Professionals in Small- to Mid-Sized Businesses, a just-released survey of more than 500 SMB decision-makers by Zoomerang Online Surveys and Polls. IT Workers Take on New Roles Twenty-two percent of businesses outsource IT support to vendors, citing cost-effectiveness (52 percent) and access to better resources (26 percent) as the primary reasons for doing so. The vast majority (78 percent) of SMBs report having in-house IT support. But, of those companies, 79 percent say their IT workers also hold other roles in the company. Sixty-seven percent are involved in daily operations; 6 percent in sales and business development; and 6 percent in customer support. Only 21 percent focus solely on IT. The percentage of SMB IT workers who are involved in other aspects of the company is growing. Thirty percent of SMBs say their in-house IT staff\u2019s role has evolved in the past year to include operations functions; 15 percent report their in-house IT staff has become more involved in business development; and 11 percent say the in-house IT staff has become more involved in customer support. \u201cMore often than not, the IT role within a small or midsized business may be fulfilled by the most technology savvy employee, requiring them to juggle multiple responsibilities on top of keeping the company\u2019s technology up and running,\u201d says Alex Terry, General Manager of Zoomerang. \u201cWith limited resources, businesses are looking to every employee to contribute and as a result, the IT role is gradually shifting from one of support to one of support and revenue generation.\u201d SMB Technology Functions Well, But Not Cutting-Edge The majority (58 percent) of respondents say their IT systems are \u201cgood\u201d (\u201cnot the latest, but everything runs smoothly and with minimal maintenance\u201d). Thirty-two percent describe their IT as \u201cintermediate\u201d (\u201cit has its good and bad moments\u201d). Just 4 percent call their systems \u201cpoor\u201d to the point where it is hurting operations. This is all good news, but on the downside, a mere 7 percent say their technology is \u201cadvanced\u201d or ahead of the curve. With technology one area where small firms can gain competitive advantages, it\u2019s a shame more entrepreneurs aren\u2019t taking advantage of IT opportunities. Are Upgrades in the Cards? Perhaps because they\u2019re mostly satisfied with their current technology, nearly half (44 percent) of survey respondents say they have no plans to upgrade their IT in the next 12 months. Still, 14 percent do intend to upgrade in the next three months and 16 percent will upgrade in the next four to 12 months. Eleven percent would like to upgrade but will wait more than a year to do so, while 14 percent are uncertain when they will upgrade. Clearly, many entrepreneurs are still waiting out the uncertain economy before investing in new technology. The key areas where those planning upgrades will invest are computers and hardware, cited by 57 percent of respondents. Next are peripherals such as phones and mobile devices (16 percent), and software (15 percent). SMB Owners Heads Not in the Cloud Terry notes that SMBs have traditionally been conservative when it comes to investment in technology, and today\u2019s hot buzzword, \u201cthe cloud,\u201d is no different. Zoomerang found that just 10 percent of SMBs have deployed cloud technologies and a whopping 72 percent of respondents don\u2019t understand or are not familiar with the technology. \u201cThese numbers are quite staggering given that cloud vendors are investing huge amounts of money in marketing to showcase the benefits of cloud computing,\u201d Terry said. \u201cThis research points to the need for cloud vendors to instead educate business owners on what cloud computing means and how it is relevant to SMBs.\u201d Of the businesses currently not using cloud computing technologies, only 2 percent plan to deploy cloud-based solutions this year; another 20 percent are still assessing the cost and benefits of various solutions. It\u2019s Still a Windows World When it comes to SMB operating systems, Windows continues to dominate. Only 5 percent of respondents use Mac OS X; just 1 percent use Linux. Overall, 91 percent use some form of Windows: 45 percent still use Windows XP, 30 percent use Windows 7 and 16 percent use Windows Vista.