Cloud computing is catching on with businesses across the board — from international hotel chains to startups targeting niche demographics such as field service and customer invoicing. But what’s the impetus for this cloud migration, and what does it mean for service companies? Interestingly (and perhaps surprisingly) cost savings, although certainly a factor and one that’s likely to gain importance as the cloud matures, isn’t the main driver behind the change. Instead, speed, flexibility, ease of customization and mobility are the predominant factors for SMBs looking to switch to nimble alternatives in the cloud.

InformationWeek’s Charles Babcock recently profiled four companies, large and small, that have shifted operations to the cloud, identifying the benefits — and the obstacles — cloud computing brings to the table. (You’ll need to download a digital edition of the edition to read the entire feature.) The piece offers relevant case studies for service and support organizations, adding ammunition to others’ largely positive take on the marriage between business and the cloud.

Mobility is a driving force behind cloud adoption — a factor that resonates with service organizations.  According to Babcock, RehabCare, the third largest supplier of rehab services in the U.S., equipped its 11,000-plus therapist workforce with iPod Touches. The mobile devices connect to the company’s cloud system, enabling therapists to quickly and accurately record patient treatment time and services rendered. The result? The company saves time and money, and more accurate reporting results in fewer rejected claims. And ServiceMax, a field service automation provider, built on a cloud platform, supports mobile devices such as BlackBerry and iPad. (Disclosure: ServiceMax is a sponsor of The SmartVan). Mobile is huge for service and other orgs with workforces largely unbound from the office PC, hence the proliferation of business tablets running cloud applications.

Adds Babcock: “Field service is a profession waiting for better mobile support, and the iPad, while not designted as a field service tool, shows promise (though durability could prove a problem).”

Skeptics, citing concerns about security, trust and the rapidly changing device landscape, temper enthusiasm around the cloud. But the cloud’s potential is becoming apparent to small businesses, which are already onboard with email and other tools. The cloud, as Babcock suggests, is changing the face of service.