Research by Oxford Economics and Windstream Communications has found that many small and midsized businesses have a strong appetite for cloud computing and tie it to increased revenues, even though they often don’t have large IT departments to support them getting into the cloud.

Oxford Economics is the research outfit frequently tapped by members of the Fortune 500 or Federal Reserve Board to draw a picture of what’s happening in different parts of the world economy. At one time, it was made up primarily of economists from Oxford University in the UK, although time has diminished that link. To conduct its “Path To Value” cloud survey, it solicited feedback in May from 350 business executives in all regions of the US; 33% were CEOs, CTOs, or COOs, while the other 67% held other executive positions.

Windstream, a Fortune 500, Little Rock, Ark.-based telco that has entered the cloud services market, sponsored the survey.

Although some of those surveyed worked for companies with $1 billion or more in revenue, the vast majority were with companies with $750 million in revenue or less, according to Ed Cone, managing editor of Oxford Economics’ Thought Leadership publishing and organizer of the Path To Value report. “They don’t have huge IT departments. They don’t hire tons of consultants,” he noted.

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Among other things, 36% of the survey respondents said cloud was critical to innovation strategy today; 53% said it would be critical in two years. Forty percent said the cloud was enabling them to move into new geographic markets today; in two years, 57% thought it would be vital for doing so. Fifty-five percent said cloud “was important for the long-range vision for our business” today; in two years, 71% said it would be.

Thirty-six percent said cloud was responsible for pushing control of IT out to line-of-business users today; in two years, 53% expected that would be the case.

Almost two-thirds of respondents said their cloud service provider added measureable value to their business results. The most favorable ratings came from the larger companies: 46% of those with revenues of $100-$499 million said the cloud added business value, as did 84% of those with revenues of $750-$5 billion.