Australian think thank Grattan Institute’s new discussion paper The Silver lining: cloud computing and small and medium enterprises investigates how businesses can get the most out of one of the biggest global innovations happening right now: information communications technology. The paper reports that SMEs are a key contributor to Australian and New Zealand economies but aren’t always as productive as they could be, and are often slower than larger firms to take up innovations.  It explores the opportunities online world – mobile devices, e-commerce, cloud computing – offers for all sizes and especially how smaller firms can benefit from cloud computing. For SMEs, technology is the key to driving productivity. The birth of the internet some 20 years ago fundamentally changed the way we do business – but the real revolution is only just beginning.  As we continue to embrace more and more cloud services – subscription based access to software applications such as Office 365 and Dynamics ERP systems – modern SMEs are realising that things are only just beginning to get truly exciting. A company’s investment in technology and having secured, cloud based systems has never been so important as today.  There is a quickly emerging “digital divide” in the world of businesses embracing the cloud vs. those burying their heads in the sand.  SMEs that embrace the opportunities for cloud based technologies to drive better customer relationships through smarter CRM and automated marketing and operational processes stand to reap the endless rewards these cloud services can provide – work anytime from anywhere with internet access. To ensure Australian SMEs have access to the most advanced and secure cloud, in last February Microsoft launched its Azure Cloud Services platform in Australia with data centres in Sydney and Melbourne. Microsoft and Vivid Dynamics are committed to helping Australian SMEs implement cloud based information systems and increase their productivity and competitiveness.