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1/7/2011
01:48 PM
Michele Warren
Michele Warren
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Mobile Solutions Take Center Stage

One of the latest, greatest tech waves is mobility. More and more people are using their wireless devices to communicate, shop, conduct business, and socialize. But what about SMBs? Are they, too, climbing aboard the mobile bandwagon?

One of the latest, greatest tech waves is mobility. More and more people are using their wireless devices to communicate, shop, conduct business, and socialize. But what about SMBs? Are they, too, climbing aboard the mobile bandwagon?The answer is yes, according to industry experts. The SMB Group, an analyst firm based in Northborough, Mass., recently completed its 2010 SMB Mobile Solutions Study [PDF], and I'd like to take this opportunity to share some of the findings.

Data for the Web-based survey was collected in the fall of 2010. More than 500 SMB decision-makers were polled, and their companies ranged from very small (1-19 employees) to midmarket (500-999 employees).

First, some basic facts and stats:

-In 2010, SMBs spent $26.1 billion on mobile technology. Of that, 69% went toward paying for voice and data services, 12% was for mobile applications, 11% was spent to procure the mobile devices themselves, and 8% went toward mobile device or application management. -Mobile Internet traffic will surpass desktop Internet traffic within the next 3-4 years.

-The mobility focus is shifting toward cloud-based applications and away from device manufacturers and wireless carriers.

-Up to 43% of small businesses plan to create a mobile website in the next 12 months.

How businesses plan to use mobile technology varies, depending largely on company size. For instance, when asked what specific line-of-business apps they plan to use in the coming year, very small businesses named mobile marketing/advertising, customer management, and social media marketing as their top three. Medium-size businesses (100-499 employees) listed customer management, field-service management, and employee-time management.

But the path to mobile-app adoption isn't to be a perfectly smooth one. There are quite a few obstacles to clear, and primary among them is the cost of voice/data service. That was the No. 1 concern across the board, regardless of company size, the SMB Group reports. Among very small businesses, 40% cited it; among small businesses (20-99 employees), 37%; and among medium-size businesses, 27%. In fact, 43% of small businesses said they haven't yet upgraded to smartphones because of the high cost of data service plans.

Other obstacles to adoption that made the top 10 for almost all respondents were poor network service/reliability, security concerns, and poor app performance.

SMBs, what's keeping you from goin' mobile? Check out my blogs next week for more from the SMB Group's report.

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