Smartphone and tablet adoption within small businesses continues to skyrocket, according to AMI Partners. And as those new devices proliferate, cloud-related opportunities also grow for VARs and MSPs serving SMB customers. Here's why.

AMI says nearly 3.5 million U.S. SMBs currently use smart phones and 700,000 currently use tablet computers. In the next 12 months, AMI estimates that the number of SMBs owning those devices will increase by 40% and 85%, respectively.

AMI astutely points out that the increasing availability of cloud computing is driving mobile technology adoption within SMBs.

The stark reality: The ability to easily make phone calls, send emails/texts or chat from remote locations is nice, but does not provide enough business value for cash-strapped SMBs to make this kind of investment in new technology. Rather, the availability of cloud services to fill sophisticated business needs, such as the secure transmittal of sensitive data between the field and corporate headquarters and the performance of advanced analytics in remote locations, is making it worthwhile for SMBs to invest in smartphones and tablets.

SMBs can pretty easily acquire, set up and run mobile hardware on their own. But developing, launching and maintaining cloud-based applications and mobile networks is another story. SMBs are looking to VARs and managed service providers that specialize in smart phones and tablets to offer solutions with the mobile devices to meet this need, either out-of-the-box or as a quick, add-on.

AMI predicts that mobile productivity suites will be the next applications to experience high growth. However, as the mobile needs of SMBs continue to evolve, more specialized mobile applications, such CRM and analytics, will likely be next to gain mainstream adoption.

Smile, It’s a Cloudy Day

This "cloudy" forecast for SMB mobile technology adoption should bring a smile to the faces of channel partners that serve SMB customers. While the type of growth AMI is forecasting for the next 12 months can't be sustained forever, it is likely that growth of mobile adoption in the SMB sector will remain in the high double-digits for several years, especially as tablets gradually complement or replace desktop PCs and even laptops in some cases.

Also, VARs and MSPs should keep in mind that as the current generation of tweens and teens never go anywhere without their mobile devices. As those users enter the workforce over the next five to seven years, they will arrive with mobile attitudes and mobile demands.