A survey of small and midsize businesses found owners are accelerating the shift away from desktops and laptops and moving toward the latest technology and gadgets such as smartphones and tablets. The findings were published by Portfolio.com, a business news site for SMB executives and entrepreneurs.
Part of a proprietary study conducted by The Business Journals that examines the makeup, attitudes and economic landscape of the SMB market, the report also showed how SMB owners are significantly increasing their use of and reliance on technology, especially the Internet as a critical business tool.
"It shouldn't be a shock to anyone that technology has dramatically changed the way entrepreneurs and company owners do business," said J. Jennings Moss, Portfolio's editor. "What is a surprise is how quickly some tools we thought were indispensable, like laptops, are being cast aside for mobile devices and tablets."
Thirty-seven percent of SMB owners responded that they have used a smartphone or a PDA in the past year, an increase of 10 percent over 2010, according to the survey. When asked about iPads and applications, 9 percent responded that they have used an iPad, and 31 percent responded that they used applications for business. SMB owners have decreased their use of desktops, notebooks/netbooks and laptops from last year.
The Internet has become more of a stalwart business tool for SMB owners with 74 percent considering the Internet as one of their most valuable business tools, up from 65 percent the previous year, while the majority of SMB owners (55 percent) are online to be connected to their businesses for 8 or more hours a day. The survey found 70 percent of SMB owners said technology has greatly increased their companies' productivity and is helping their lives stay more organized.
In addition, 71 percent said they research products for purchase online, while 58 percent look for business news online, versus 55 percent and 52 percent in 2010, respectively. With the increase in Internet use among SMB owners, the study found that owners are now embracing social networks as a personal and business resource: 70 percent of SMB owners currently use social networks, while 49 percent have social networks as part of their marketing initiatives.
Facebook is the most-used social platform with 59 percent on the service for either personal or business use, though 31 percent are also using LinkedIn, but 91 percent of users are using it for their business. Fifteen percent of respondents are on Twitter, which is ranked second behind LinkedIn as a business tool, and 73 percent said they have used YouTube.
"We are seeing SMBs rapidly embracing social media as a key component of their business and marketing plans," said Godfrey Phillips, vice president for research at The Business Journals. "SMB owners see Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as the dominant platforms with the largest shares of business use. With access to the Internet more readily available, especially through mobile devices and tablets, it makes sense that social media is becoming a key platform and resource to SMB owners."