For businesses of all sizes, saving time means saving money, but perhaps for none does that ring more true than for small businesses. In fact, millions of them are tapping into technology to save time and, ultimately, money as well – to the tune of a staggering $67.5 billion a year – by using mobile apps, tablets, and smartphones in their day-to-day business activities.
The savings were calculated based on results of a just-released survey commissioned by AT&T and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council), a nonprofit advocacy, research, training and networking organization dedicated to protecting small business and promoting entrepreneurship.
Among mobile technologies, the 2014 AT&T-SBE Council Small Business Technology Poll found that smartphones are saving business owners the most time (1.24 billion hours) and money ($32.3 billion) annually. Tablets (saving 754.2 million hours and $19.6 billion a year) and mobile apps (saving 599.5 million hours and $15.6 billion a year) are also providing small businesses with more time.
With the increased time savings resulting from using mobile apps and devices, business owners indicate that they’re not getting any more rest or relaxation. Instead, they’re re-investing the extra time back into their businesses to grow sales, increase engagement with customers, and research their respective industries to learn about new trends or competitors.
“Clearly, we are at a point where entrepreneurs now look first to communications technologies and innovations for solutions to improve productivity, cut costs and better manage and engage with customers,” said SBE Council president & CEO Karen Kerrigan. “That is time and money that can go back into driving sales and innovating in the marketplace.”
Smartphones have become almost ubiquitous among small businesses with 94 percent using them to conduct business, up from 85 percent last year. More than half of small businesses say they use mobile applications, with the vast majority of those (91 percent) saying it helps them save time and two-thirds saying it saves them money. The majority of those businesses estimate they are saving up to $500 a month – or $6,000 per year – by using mobile apps.
The survey also found that the average number of days small business employees are using smartphones to conduct business exceeds the average number of days they are open for business. While small businesses are open an average of 5.7 days per a week, nearly half (49 percent) of small business owners with smartphones are using them to conduct some business activities 7 days a week.
“In the current economy, mobile technologies are critical to enabling small businesses to save tremendous amounts of time and money by helping them do more with less,” said Cathy Martine, AT&T President of Enterprise Business Solutions. “As a result, we’re seeing more and more small business owners and employees turning to mobile technologies to not only keep them connected but to put them ahead of the curve, as well as their competition.”
Additional findings from the 2014 AT&T-SBE Council Small Business Technology Poll include:
Exactly 31 percent of small businesses report they save at least five hours per week as a result of using laptops or notebooks. As businesses become more mobile, owners report an increase in use and device dependency over the last two years. Approximately three-fourths of small businesses report their use of mobile devices has increased because it allows them to operate remotely.
Small businesses also attribute the rise in device use to an improvement in operational efficiencies, time savings and an increase in employee productivity.
Nearly one-third of small businesses have seen their use of mobile data at least double over the past two years due to such common activities as downloading and uploading files on their mobile devices.
Mobile Apps Usage
Over the last two years, the use of mobile apps by small businesses has increased by 65 percent. Of the small businesses that use mobile applications, the majority (92 percent) are using smartphones to tap into apps.
Also, more than three-fourths (77 percent) are consistently relying on three or more mobile apps. The most commonly used app types were remote document access, travel planning, and banking/finance management.
Topping the list of most-used apps for the fourth consecutive year of the survey were GPS/navigation and mapping apps.
More than nine out of 10 respondents (92 percent) who use mobile apps have them on their smartphone, while slightly more than half use them on their tablet.
Of the small businesses using mobile apps, more than three in four (77 percent) are using three or more apps, with 5 percent using 20 or more apps … GPS/navigation and mapping apps as the most prominent.
For more information and additional results from the 2014 AT&T-SBE Council Small Business Technology Poll, please click here.