When we wrote “Big Trends for Small Business,” two of the top trends we noted were the development and use of thousands of new mobile apps and the ability to work anywhere at anytime. A recent survey of 717 U.S. SMB decision makers and influencers conducted by the SMB Group indicates that many of you already capitalize on these trends. The SMB group reports that you increasingly see the value of mobile applications for growing revenue, attracting and retaining customers and staying competitive. Furthermore, you want to be sure that customers can interact with you anytime, anywhere and from any device.
The SMB Group’s “2012 SMB Mobile Solutions Study” indicated too that you are using both mobile-friendly websites and mobile apps to enable collaboration with customers as well as partners and suppliers. Among these, the top five capabilities you’re providing or plan to provide to your external audiences are:
- Schedule appointments/make reservation (top external app that professional services firms use)
- Social media sharing
- Buy products and/or services (top app for retail products and services)
- Add/view/change personal information
- Marketing offers to customers/prospects
Don’t ignore the internal side of the equation
InformationWeek’s Kevin Casey offers a cautionary note about overlooking internal mobile apps. He says that while the survey indicated that you clearly have a vision for the use of consumer-facing and other external apps, the majority indicated ‘no plans’ plans for internal mobile app functions that can boost productivity and collaboration, such as conferencing (52 percent) expense management (59 percent) or analytics (69 percent). Even more surprising, 59 percent of those surveyed have no plans to manage social media on their mobile devices. This was despite a clear correlation between mobile and money. SMB Group survey respondents that reported increasing revenue were more likely to use both external and internal apps.
The bottom line is that mobile applications – internal and external – however deployed can offer a significant upside to your business. Consider your company’s near and long term objectives. Evaluate solutions and, if necessary, get outside resources to help with implementation and ongoing management