A typical SMB has a full one-quarter of its staff working outside the office at any given time, the report said.
Half the employees at small
and midsize businesses are estimated to be working outside the office, and a
quarter of SMBs' staff works outside the firm at any given time, at any given
time, according to a new study, entitled "State-of-the-Market 2011 Report:
Mobility Trends in SMBs."
The report, released by
business communications specialist Fonality and conducted by Webtorials, showed
the increased use of tablet computers, which the company predicted would become
the standard mobile device within 18 months. In addition, due to increasing
mobile dependence, 43 percent of SMBs plan to deploy cloud-based or hosted
mobile solutions to improve delivery to employees, according to the study, which
is based on a survey of companies with 10 to 250 employees.
"SMBs are relying on mobile
tools to better serve customers and reduce capex," said Joanie Wexler, an
independent networking analyst and editor in Silicon Valley. "However,
employees are struggling with inconsistent access experiences when inside and
outside the office, which can be a productivity-buster. Companies with highly
mobile-centric employees that invest in solutions enabling consistent access
can recoup a lot of worker time, and this study shows that cloud/hosted
services are emerging as a primary way of achieving those goals."
The biggest reason SMBs
implement mobility is to enable their employees to work wherever the job
demands, according to 75 percent of respondents. Increasingly, that means those
workers that are in the field. Half the workers at the respondents' companies
are mobile at least some of the time, and those employees work outside their
employers' office areas for nearly half their workdays. That means a typical
SMB has a full one-quarter of their staff working outside the office at any
given time, the report said.
The report showed that real-time
presence as well as corporate directory and calendar access are favored.
Unified Communications (UC) capabilities and contact center functionality,
including customer escalation, skills-based routing and queue management are an
increasingly high priority. In addition, the survey found WiFi connectivity is
a preferred method to preserve mobile-plan minutes.
The study states that mobile
workers who spend hours of their day in the field experience difficulty
accessing critical business applications-which, in turn, hampers productivity.
This productivity loss is up to six hours per week of wasted time per SMB
employee. By providing the same business communications experience inside and
outside the office, an average firm consisting of 137 employees with 67 mobile
workers can recoup up to $700,000 annually in measurable staff productivity
gains, or more than $10,000 per mobile employee.
"This study reveals that the
mobile workforces of today's growing businesses have been artificially
inhibited by legacy technologies," said Wes Durow, chief marketing officer of
Fonality. "SMBs now have access to cloud-based Unified Communications and
contact center features that fully enable remote workers in a simple and
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.