Fonality, a business communications company has released the results of a comprehensive survey conducted by Webtorials that focused on the communications needs of small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). I’m a bit dubious of the results, however.

The “2011 Small and Medium-Sized Business Communications Plans and Priorities” State-of-the-Market Report polled “highly skilled, technically Proficient” Professionals considered to be on the “leading edge” of technology adoption. Respondents emphasized that cloud-based business applications or AaaS (Anything as a Service) will be increasingly embraced to control costs, and return on investment (ROI) is a key factor in their decision-making.

“Based on the results of this survey, it’s clear that SMBs see the value of cloud-based solutions and are eager to benefit from a Productivity and ROI perspective,” says Fonality president and CEO, Dean Mansfield. “Cloud-based communications tools in particular can be leveraged by companies to drive competitive differentiation while maximizing working capital.”

Key findings of the survey include:

° ROI (return on investment) of increased Productivity from office communications is the most compelling factor in technology adoption

° Eighty-eight percent cite “maximizing working capital and/or cash flow” as a major factor in SMB technology decisions.

° Minimizing total cost of ownership is the “ultimate goal” of adopting service-based offerings.

° Mobility and unified communications are recognized by a strong majority of those surveyed as key technologies to increase efficiency and Profitability.

° Most respondents see their current communications solutions as being “good,” but 78% also seek to imProve their capabilities.

There is a very high amount of interest in cloud-based solutions and an excellent Prognosis for cloud-based AaaS (Anything as a Service), with market opportunities still emerging, says Steve Taylor, editor-in-chief and publisher for Webtorials. The complete findings of the “2011 SMB Communications Plans and Priorities State-of-the-Market Report” are available at .

The folks at Fonality and Webtorials may be right — and their survey does concentrate on the communication aspect of cloud computing. However, I still don’t think most folks want all their valuable data and files (including music, photos and videos) in “the cloud.” I know I don’t.

For many of us, our desktops and laptops are where we organize our private and work lives to adapt to their personal needs. Most of us are going to want that info stored somewhere besides (or at least in addition to) “the cloud.” Also, I still maintain that thin client hardware used for cloud computing isn’t as good a value as traditional computers. Such hardware might be cheaper, but it also lacks the power, memory and storage capability of the personal computer as we know it.

— Dennis Sellers