Small Businesses Dependent on Smartphones, Tablets: AT&T

By Nathan Eddy  |  Posted 2013-03-15

The use of wireless technology among small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in the United States has become so widespread and so important that two-thirds (66 percent) of small businesses polled indicate that they could not survive–or it would be a major challenge to survive–without it, according to the 2013 AT&T Small Business Technology Poll.

The survey of 1,000 small businesses nationwide found 98 percent of respondents use some form of wireless technologies in their operations. Nearly one-third (31 percent) of small businesses surveyed use mobile apps, with top three reasons being to save time, increase productivity and reduce costs. Slightly less than half (47 percent) of small businesses using mobile apps say they could not survive–or it would be a major challenge to survive–without them.

Of small businesses using mobile apps, GPS navigation and mapping are by far the most popular with 74 percent of business owners using them, followed by location-based services (43 percent), document management (35 percent), social media marketing (32 percent) and mobile payments in the field (30 percent). More than four in 10 (41 percent) small businesses report that all their employees use wireless devices or wireless technologies to work away from the office.

When it comes to mobile devices, the poll revealed that more than half (56 percent) of smartphones used by small business employees for business purposes are 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) capable, a 70 percent jump in usage from last year when only 33 percent used 4G smartphones. The survey indicated those using the network are happy with the results--nine in 10 of the businesses using 4G smartphones said they are satisfied with the speed.

More than two-thirds (69 percent) of small businesses surveyed indicate that they use tablet computers. The results suggest that the larger the business, the more likely they are to use tablets, with 90 percent of those with 51 to 99 employees using them, compared to 69 percent of those with 50 or fewer employees.

In addition, newer businesses are more likely to use tablets, with 80 percent of businesses that are less than two years old using them, compared to 69 percent of small businesses two years and older. The percentage of small businesses that reported using smartphones for their operations more than doubled, to 85 percent from 42 percent just five years ago.

A report from security specialist Sophos suggested wireless devices are not just taking over small business operations, but the world as well. The survey of more than 2,200 mobile device users indicated mobile gadgets are a dominant and irreplaceable part of our modern lives, with an average user carrying 2.9 devices.

Smartphones were far and away the most popular devices carried by survey respondents (85 percent), while the e-reader was the least popular (29 percent). Sandwiched in the middle were notebooks (68 percent), tablets (48 percent), and mp3 players (40 percent).

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