The trend in mobile technology expansion is being viewed as a positive in the area of employee productivity. It’s especially true at small to mid-size businesses that may not consider it a priority. One notable trend is a significant change in one key area of supplying employees with the technology.
That’s the finding of a Sage North America survey on the issue. Sage is a supplier of business management software and services to more than 6 million customers around the globe.
This is its second annual mobile device survey, which recently polled 1,090 small and midsized businesses (SMBs) in the United States. The Sage SMB Survey on Mobile Devices, according to a news release, showed that slightly more than half of the businesses responding to the survey supply their employees with mobile devices (54 percent). This figure is down from 69 percent in the 2013 survey.
When asked about the positive effect mobile technology has had on their businesses, respondents said the biggest positive effect has been on customer service (70 percent). Business owners found mobile devices have also been helpful in performing business in the event of inclement weather (32 percent). Furthermore, they responded that mobile devices have been helpful in bringing more work to the company (21 percent) and by giving the ability to conduct meetings remotely (20 percent).
“The Sage Mobile Device Survey shows that mobile technology makes doing business easier, empowers superior customer service and increases productivity,” said Joe Langner, executive vice president and general manager of mid-market solutions for Sage North America. “With important business functions like customer contact being conducted primarily on mobile devices, business owners are finding ways to take advantage of technology and are seeing mobility make a true impact on their business.”
One of the most surprising findings, the Sage survey determined, is that while mobility is clearly having a positive effect on business processes, most businesses are not budgeting for the cost of mobile devices. Slightly more than three-quarters of business executives generally do not budget for mobile devices, preferring instead to purchase them as the need arises. Five percent report that their business sets an annual budget for mobile items and sticks to it, while slightly more than one in nine (12 percent) set an annual budget and adjust expenditures as needed.
Other notable findings include:
- Slightly more than half of the survey respondents (51 percent) personally use a mobile device to access work-related information remotely (when away from the office or their main computer).
- About two out of five respondents who use mobile applications are using a work-related application on their mobile device (other than a laptop) that connects to the cloud.
- Employees most commonly use mobile applications for checking their email (96 percent), text messaging (84 percent), managing contacts (79 percent) and their calendar (71 percent), documents (65 percent), banking (60 percent) and social media (55 percent).
Langner added, “More and more companies see the benefits of employees who have access to applications that extend their capabilities beyond the office, so they can conduct business anywhere and anytime. When employees get what they need to do their job – no more no less – from remote offices, at home, or on the road, companies deliver better customer service and are more productive. Mobile technology provides these businesses with a competitive advantage, increasing referrals, and elevating their brand.”
He also points out, “Track equipment expenses. You probably have out-of-date computers that could be sold or donated. Older technology may be negatively impacting employee productivity much more than you know. Evaluate replacing these older, slower, less mobile desktops with laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Create a plan, and a budget, to bring in mobile devices and services to maximize productivity.”