The pervasiveness of mobile in small and medium-sized business is undeniable. In SMB Group’s annual mobility study http://www.smb-gr.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/pdf/Press_Release_Mobile_2013.pdf, use of wireless technology is at a whopping 91 percent. Employee use of internal applications for collaboration and more is up 20 percent from the 2012 study.
But how about the effectiveness?
Fifty-eight percent of SMBs report improved productivity as a result of internal apps, and 52 percent say these apps enable better and faster decisions. Nearly half say that "internal" apps have a significant external impact in the form of improved customer service.
Fielded in March 2013, the study surveyed over 700 U.S. SMB decision makers including very small business (1-19 employees), small business (20-99 employees), and medium business (100-999 employees).
But in these relatively early days of mobile, an SMB Group executive said that these businesses are gauging their efforts from their guts rather than cash registers.
"Do [SMBs] view [mobile] strategically? I think a lot of them do," SMB Group partner Laurie McCabe told Information Week. "That doesn't mean they have a great strategy."
Since the 2007 introduction of the iPhone, businesses of all sizes have decided that they “need an app”. Often, those beliefs and the dollars spent bringing an app to market have been foolhardy. In many cases, an app would be supplemental to more core and adopted mobile activity like text messaging and the creation of a mobile web site.
McCabe pointed to ways that small businesses can measure their app efforts, including through such endeavors as determining if an appointment scheduling applications resulted in an increase in bookings.
My take on the survey results? Adoption of mobile in SMB is understandable given the fact that the great majority of business owners use devices in their personal lives. Should we expect that all efforts would be more measureable and strategic? No. Even the largest enterprises struggle some with gauging results.
But the SMB’s success lies in its ability to make wise decisions in mobile. Getting the strategy nailed and executed is a competitive advantage.
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.