Technology is crucial to small business success these days, so it’s no wonder that this year, small businesses are upping their spending on technology, according to the Summer 2013 CBeyond Business Leader Snapshot. More than half (59 percent) of those surveyed in the poll of small and midsized business leaders say they will increase their tech budgets this year. Thirty-one percent say technology budgets will stay the same. Just 11 percent planned to make cuts.
What specific technology matters most to SMBs? The technologies ranked as “very” or “somewhat” important to their businesses in the coming year were:
- high-speed, always-on Internet access: 95 percent
- mobile services: 93 percent
- desktop/laptop management (desktop support, software/antivirus maintenance): 92 percent
- applications (security, productivity and collaboration software): 83 percent
- cloud services: 70 percent
- data security: 66 percent
- Serving customers: 65 percent
The following cloud services were ranked as most important to SMB leaders:
- online backup: 39 percent
- company email: 35 percent
- file sharing: 32 percent
While in the past, applications have been the most important tool for small businesses, mobile services are rapidly becoming more important. This year, for the first time, mobile services surpassed applications in importance. In fact, some 34 percent of respondents say their businesses couldn’t survive without mobile services, while 42 percent said running their business without mobile services would be a “major challenge.”
One reason that business leaders value mobile services so highly is that it’s become essential to be able to work remotely. A whopping 89 percent of respondents in the survey say it’s important to be able to work remotely on a regular basis, and 79 percent say it’s important to be able to work remotely while on vacation.
One area still presenting challenges for SMBs is security, especially as it relates to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend. More than one-fifth (22 percent) of respondents report they’ve developed a BYOD policy to guide how employees access company data through personal devices such as tablets and smartphones. Although most business leaders feel confident about the security of their business computers and information, a significant 32 percent still worry that their businesses’ systems and valuable data may be at risk.
How does your small business’s use of technology compare to these business leaders?