Survey: Small Business Need Better Apps

10/29/2012 14:23 PM
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Technology is a great equalizer that can level the playing field between small and medium businesses and their much larger competitors. A survey from Bank of the Westfinds that SMBs have embraced mobile technology and recognize its importance, but are frustrated by a lack of apps more relevant to their specific business needs.

Harris Interactive conducted the online survey on behalf of Bank of the West. It targeted small businesses—defined as having two or more employees and $10 million or less in annual revenue—in July and August.

There are some interesting results. Almost nine out of ten of the small businesses indicated that they use mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. However, 58 percent wish that mobile technologies were tailored to be more relevant for their business.

Photo by Robert Cardin
Mobile technology is crucial to the success of small businesses.

According to the survey, small businesses are using smartphones and tablets for the obvious tasks you’d expect. Seventy-six percent utilize mobile technology for voice calls, email, texting, and instant messaging; 48 percent for calendars and scheduling; and 42 percent for GPS and navigation. Those uses are basically table stakes for mobile technology, though, and don’t deliver specific strategic advantages.

The leading barrier to taking better advantage of mobile technology cited by respondents is a lack of relevant uses. What would small businesses like to see? There was a 94 percent increase over previous survey results in the demand for apps dedicated to marketing, an 82 percent jump for mobile technologies to make and receive payments, and a 63 percent surge for CRM (customer relationship management) apps.

The survey suggests that there is a market demand for app developers. Small businesses need developers who understand the challenges they face and can deliver apps to help. And SMBs that really seek to seize a strategic advantage should consider contracting a developer to design a custom app specific to their needs.

Aside from relevant uses, security concerns SMBs adopting mobile technology. More than 90 percent of those surveyed claim they’ve never experienced information or data theft as a function of using mobile devices. However, more than half still reported security concerns as a significant factor preventing them from using mobile technology more aggressively.