Smartphones are an almost ubiquitous, indispensable tool for small-business owners: Some 85 percent of you now use one to make decisions, run your operations, or conduct business on-the-go, according to data from the 2012 AT&T Small Business Tech Poll. That’s more than double the percentage who relied on one of these gadgets just five years ago.
So, it’s great that you’re hip to the mobile scene … but is your small business really using smartphones and tablet computers to its best advantage?
Recent use statistics compiled by Intuit should get your team rethinking its mobile investments, starting with the types of apps it uses. For one thing, at least half of small-business owners believe they wouldn’t be able to survive without mobile apps — a 31 percent increase over those who thought so last year.
If you’re wondering why, here are five mobile technology trends to consider (based on research data from various sources):
1. Don’t limit mobility to the owner or top manager. Forty-three percent of small businesses allow their employees to work remotely, an increase of 80 percent from three years ago. The smaller the business, the more likely it is to use mobile apps. Don’t let this become an edge for your competitors.
2. Tablet computer adoption is rapidly increasing. Almost two-thirds of small businesses are using tablets, up 10 percent from 2011. Small companies less than two years old are the fastest adopters, which suggests new business models are being enabled by the devices.
Established companies should move more quickly if they don’t want to get left behind.
3. Location-based applications are big. The most popular mobile apps for small businesses are those that offer navigation or that are linked to GPS data: Almost 80 percent of mobile-enabled small businesses use them. Location-based services such as Yelp and Foursquare are becoming more established as well, with a penetration rate of 44 percent, according to data compiled by Intuit.
4. Look for ways to save time. Consider: Mobile apps that connect with accounting systems. Software for keeping track of billable hours or expenses. Digital options for taking notes or updating sales call reports. Solutions like these help save an average of four hours per week. This is the top reason that small-business owners choose mobile apps.
5. Be willing to let transactions happen anytime, anywhere. Close to half of small retailers will be using a mobile payment app within 12 to 18 months, allowing them to capture revenue when and where it’s convenient for customers.
Click on the image below for the full “Small Business Appmosphere” infographic.