In many cases, mobile is more than an equalizer for small and medium-sized businesses – it is a tool to gain a competitive advantage.
In a new and comprehensive survey of 80 SMB companies and review of data from over 12,000 other similar business conducted by leading wireless analyst Chetan Sharma http://chetansharma.com/ABCs_of_SMB_Transformation.htm, roughly three-quarters of respondents were satisfied with the ROI of the deployed mobile data solutions. These companies have been in business for 20 years on average with over two years of experience with mobile data solutions.
The top reasons for mobile data solution adoption:
Cost reduction – Over 70 percent of the respondents said
that cost reduction was their most important driver for adopting mobile data
solutions. As an example, during the course of the day, if a customer
appointment is cancelled, software can automatically route the worker to the
next optimized customer location based on context and relevancy without having
to disrupt the work flow.
Work flexibility – Using the always connected devices, operations can be optimized for efficiency giving the central command center several options to deal with exceptions and emergencies.
Quicker access to people and information – Over 65 percent of the respondents picked quicker access to information and people as an important virtue for them to consider mobile data solutions.
Better customer service – The same technology can be used to keep customers up to date about the appointment in real-time instead of providing 2-4-8 hour time windows for repair and delivery. The financial transaction can take place on the spot with a touch of the button. This saves the customer time and hassle and improves service provider customer service.
According to Sharma, a general rule of thumb is that if the person works for 20 percent or more outside the physical office, they will need some form of mobile data solution.
Sharma said that the SMB segment is a leading indicator of how larger enterprises and consumers in general will adopt mobile data solutions to enhance productivity and reduce costs.
Those in the survey aren’t satisfied with the status quo. The panel is planning to provide more mobile data solutions to more employees next year. The spend is for both upgrading and purchasing new devices but also for buying cloud based and packaged software solutions.
The new emerging categories of investment are in analytics and business intelligence solutions, mobile marketing and advertising, and supply chain integration.
There are ample cases of small and medium-sized businesses selling more products and services through relatively inexpensive mobile marketing and advertising programs. These include a maid service in Utah that had to hire more personnel after its sponsorship of a radio station ticket giveaway brought new prospects, and a Baltimore car dealer that sold 34 automobiles in one day as part of a mobile campaign after not selling a car in over a month.
Each of these successes and others are detailed in my Mobilized Marketing book.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program http://Goo.gl/t3fgW, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.