Cloud computing, mobile applications and social-networking sites are giving small businesses a boost, an AT&T survey found.
Small businesses rely
increasingly on mobile applications, Facebook pages for their companies, and
employees working remotely via wireless technologies, according to the AT&T
Small Business Technology Poll.
The national survey of small
businesses with two to 50 employees revealed that nearly three-fourths (72
percent) indicate they use mobile applications in their business, with roughly
four in ten (38 percent) reporting they could not survive-or it would be a
major challenge to survive-without mobile applications.
Considering there are more
than 500 million active Facebook users, this year's survey found a significant
increase in small businesses that have adopted this social-media channel as a
business tool, with 41 percent reporting they have a Facebook page for their
business. Use is up from 27 percent in 2010, representing a 52 percent jump in
just one year. Additionally, of the businesses reporting that they use social
media, 41 percent responded that they've seen measurable success-in terms of
better communications and relationships with new and/or existing customers-with
The AT&T survey also
found that 33 percent of small businesses indicated that they are using
cloud-based or software as a service solutions, a solid adoption rate for these
nascent services. But cloud solutions are not nearly as critical to small
businesses just yet as other technologies, with less than one in five (17
percent) saying they could not survive-or it would be a major challenge to
survive-without these technologies.
Moreover, despite recent
headlines and media campaigns, 32 percent of small businesses surveyed
acknowledged they do not know what is meant by cloud-based or software as a
Mobile applications are
becoming crucial for small businesses, with nearly three-fourths (72 percent)
of small businesses surveyed indicating they use mobile applications for their
business; the driving force behind this widespread adoption is time savings,
increased productivity and reduction of costs. Moreover, GPS/navigation and
mapping mobile applications are by far the most popular, with 49 percent
reporting they use them for their small business.
In addition, 40 percent of
small businesses report that all their employees use wireless devices or
wireless technologies to work away from the office. This is up from 24 percent
in 2008, and is expected to grow to 50 percent by 2012. In addition, the survey
found 96 percent of small businesses use wireless technologies. In fact, nearly
two-thirds (64 percent) of small businesses surveyed said they could not survive-or
it would be a major challenge to survive-without wireless technology.
The survey also picked up
regional variations for these technologies: Based on responses to four factors-the
perceived importance of wireless, the use of wireless technology, the use of
mobile applications and the percentage of employees using wireless to work away
from the office-a Wireless Quotient, or "WiQ," was calculated for each of the
12 markets surveyed. Each component was weighted in the rankings. For example,
use of wireless technology was viewed as more important than the perceived
importance of that technology. Last year, Atlanta and Oklahoma topped the
rankings for highest WiQ, but this year, Miami and Atlanta led the pack.