Smartphone, Tablet Use Boosting Small Businesses: Sage

Small businesses say mobile devices have a positive impact on their companies' productivity, and almost half those polled have a BYOD policy in place.

Small business that use mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and notebooks feel that they have had a positive effect on their companies' productivity, according to a Sage North America survey of 490 small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in the United States.

Just 1 percent of businesses using mobile devices felt it had a negative impact on the company's productivity, compared with 85 percent of respondents who said the technology had a positive impact on their business. Notebooks (80 percent) and smartphones (81 percent) were the most common devices employees used remotely to access work-related information when they are not in the office, followed by tablets (57 percent).

"For many businesses, the mobile device is an extension of the office," Joe Langner, executive vice president of Sage North America, said in a statement. "It affords workers the freedom to leave the office while maintaining the connectivity necessary to keep business objectives moving forward wherever they are. Mobility can support collaboration of internal teams by enabling seamless integration between the field and the office as well as eliminating potential bottlenecks between departments."

When asked about how their businesses carry out various business functions, 31 percent of respondents said mobile applications are commonly used for keeping business contacts organized, 26 percent said mobile apps are used for scheduling, and 23 percent said they are used for keeping a task list and/or assigning tasks to specific employees.

"Employees are looking to work beyond the four walls. Take mobile salespeople, for example. They need as much data as possible to close a sale. They need to be able to access their catalog of items, create sales quotes, and even compare their sales number against their team's performance and goals," Langner said. "With mobile business applications, they can do this anywhere; they're no longer tethered to the office."

The survey also asked respondents about the growing bring your own device (BYOD) trend, which allows employees to bring their personal smartphones and tablets to the office for business use. Smartphones—regardless of whether provided by the employer or furnished by the employee—are used for work more than 58 percent of the time, the study showed.

Nearly half (48 percent) of those polled said they already have a BYOD policy in place, while 31 percent said they had not considered this option. Another 9 percent have considered but decided against a BYOD strategy for their businesses. The report suggested those who decide against a BYOD policy might be missing out on a way to capitalize on the growing trend of conducting work activities on mobile devices.

According to the 2013 AT&T Small Business Technology Poll released March 13, mobile devices are not only popular among small businesses, but also essential to their success. The survey of 1,000 small businesses nationwide found 98 percent of respondents use some form of wireless technologies in their operations, and 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.