With the increasing convenience and availability of mobile technology, small businesses are finding it easier to compete. The Small Business Mobility Report by CDW found that nearly all respondents -- 94% -- agreed that their use of mobile devices for work tasks has made them more efficient. This efficiency boost grants small businesses an opportunity to extend reach and increase productivity without emptying the piggy bank.
Mobility benefits are helping small businesses sidestep the obstacles and roadblocks of the past. Before the rampant onset of mobile devices, small business employees were only available to their customers and managers from their office desks. Thanks to the anytime, anywhere capabilities of mobile devices, small business employees are more efficient and more responsive. In CDW's report, 60% of small business mobile device users pointed to expanded communication and increased availability to customers as key benefits of mobility.
Specific mobile tools are also giving small businesses greater opportunity to streamline business processes and even the playing field. Mobile business apps -- including email, calendar, GPS/navigation, document reading, social media and file storage apps -- enable small business employees to do more in less time. With 55% of smartphone and tablet users running work- related apps on their mobile devices, it is clear that business apps will continue to play a significant role as more small business employees go mobile.
Respondents also emphasized the necessity of mobiles devices to stay competitive in the market. Of those surveyed, 75% of mobile device users agreed that mobile devices are critical to their jobs, and 67% agreed that their company would lose competitive ground in today's market without mobile devices.
Practice makes perfect
While small businesses are quickly recognizing the benefits of mobile technology, like any new solution, mobility can present new management challenges. Only 51% of CDW's respondents said their company has an effective mobile device management (MDM) strategy -- and only 33% of IT managers surveyed were familiar with MDM solutions. In order to secure mobile devices and prevent data loss, IT managers need to understand -- and feel empowered to implement -- MDM solutions and protocols across the entire organization.
Small businesses must also be receptive to embracing new technologies that enhance the benefits of mobile devices, including business apps. While more than half of mobile device users surveyed are running work-related apps on their mobile devices, only 20% of respondents that use smartphones and tablets said that their companies offer proprietary business apps. Small businesses should examine the needs of employees to determine whether proprietary business apps could offer stronger benefits than the wide variety of apps an employee can download on a one-off basis on their own. If small businesses want employees to have a uniform mobile experience with pre-selected tools, proprietary business apps might be an option.
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