SMBs Look Ahead To Mobile Commerce - InformationWeek
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1/13/2011
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Michele Warren
Michele Warren
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SMBs Look Ahead To Mobile Commerce

Pop Quiz: Which is the most popular wireless device among SMBs: a) Apple iPad b) Android c) good ol' cellphone (voice and text only)? Did you pick a), feeling confident that forward-looking entrepreneurs can't resist Apple's latest power gadget? How about the Google-based Android? No doubt, the TV ads promise a sort of futuristic high for those who harness its power.

Pop Quiz: Which is the most popular wireless device among SMBs: a) Apple iPad b) Android c) good ol' cellphone (voice and text only)? Did you pick a), feeling confident that forward-looking entrepreneurs can't resist Apple's latest power gadget? How about the Google-based Android? No doubt, the TV ads promise a sort of futuristic high for those who harness its power.But the correct answer is actually c). Yes, that's right. Believe it or not, employees of small and midsize businesses are sticking with their ordinary cellphones--at least for now. The main reason for the reluctance to upgrade is cost, as I discussed in last week's blog, where I shared results from the SMB Group's latest Mobile Solutions Study [PDF].

To recap: 43% of small businesses said they haven't yet upgraded to smartphones because of the high cost of data service plans. But change is afoot, as usual. As prices come down and companies grow, they'll start using smartphones for sure. Most popular among those that have already made the switch is the BlackBerry, cited by 31% of very small businesses (1-19 employees), 37% of small businesses (20-99 employees), and 69% of midsize businesses (100-499 employees) in the analyst firm's report. The second-most-popular device is the Apple iPhone. As for the Apple iPad, that seems to be gaining more traction in bigger companies.

Meanwhile, the top 3 reasons for going mobile cited by study respondents were attracting new customers, growing revenue, and maintaining profitability. With that said, SMBs will invest in customer-facing solutions such as mobile commerce and websites before they spend money on mobile solutions for the sake of enhancing employee productivity.

Currently, most mobile applications and/or websites are being used, or will be used, for making payments, tracking products and services, document sharing, and customer service and support. Very small businesses, for example, plan to increase their use of mobile payments to 25% from 11% and their mobile product and service tracking to 26% from 9%.

Also, the key drivers for mobile commerce appear to vary by industry, say analysts at the SMB Group. Among very small businesses, for instance, more and better customer contact is key in the not-for-profit, education, and professional services sectors. In healthcare, financial services, and real estate, customer convenience reigns supreme.

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