Providing a positive customer experience using transformative cloud technologies is the number one key to driving economic growth for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) according to new research conducted by independent market research firm IDG Research Services. The study sponsored by Progress, a global software company, polled 300 key decision-makers across the US and Europe about their biggest business challenges and key goals. SMEs are businesses with less than 249 employees (Europe) and between 50 and 999 employees (US). The survey found that most are improving the customer experience through value added services and business applications and that cloud services are helping these organizations to deliver on customer demands. Customer-centric approach driving growth Often applauded for a more personalized, customer-centric approach than larger enterprises, the study found that SMEs are continuing to focus on this area, with 74% looking to achieve growth through an improved customer experience and the delivery of value added services. Further, 60% said they plan to adjust business models over the next 18 months to better meet customer demands and stay ahead of the competition. Nearly half (48%) reported that ensuring security for their key applications was their highest priority. In a competitive business environment, businesses also are increasingly looking for new applications that can help improve efficiency and boost productivity. More than half are focusing on application initiatives that deliver agile, responsive business environments, with 54% planning to deploy new business applications to increase productivity within the next 18 months. In line with the maturity of the market, SMEs in the US were found to be slightly ahead of their European counterparts with a greater focus on implementing Big Data initiatives (48% US v 33% Europe). Showing the need for more agility, 47% will be focusing on increasing collaboration between IT and business organizations to build better business applications faster over the next 18 months.