Small businesses are frequently hailed as the driving force behind the economy. And you can see why. Size and ambition makes them well placed to spot gaps in the market and act quickly; while a change of course in larger organisations can be like turning round an oil tanker.
So what happens when you combine these qualities with time-saving technology? A robust economic recovery, apparently.
According to The Open University, 48 % of small businesses are now using smartphones, with a further 9% planning to adopt the technology this year, enabling SMEs to respond quickly to all manner of positive and negative business matters.
Colin Gray, professor at The Open University Business School, says, “Britain needs to kick-start and sustain our economy on a longer term basis and technology could provide the answer. Smartphones mean SMEs can be much more efficient with their time, which is a precious commodity due to their lack of resources.
Owner-managers can log-on to their emails, make payments, send invoices, and do word processing wherever they are in the world by simply reaching into their pockets.
Jamie Turner, at computer company Postcode Anywhere has fewer than 30 staff and says smartphones have allowed it to grow by staying close to its systems and consequently its customers.
“Key staff members are provided with company iPhones so they can keep on top of customer service, emails and the company’s custom-built Customer Relationship Management software. Staff can even connect to the virtual private network and remote control their PCs for real access to the systems if needed.”
Turner even get texts sent to his phone when the server gets upset. As well as having instant access to monitoring and control systems to reboot the servers through his smart phone from home if necessary.
Paul Maher, owner of Positive Marketing, uses smartphones for checking PowerPoint and word docs remotely, scheduling meetings and dealing with clients from across the world.
However, he says there can be problems in becoming overly reliant on this technology. “I recently travelled in the UK and failed to factor in that my phone provider didn’t have coverage there. I had to make a conference call with a really important client and ended up looking really unprofessional.”
But Maher believes the technology has nevertheless contributed to his company’s growth.
According to Gray it’s the larger small business who are mostly benefitting from smartphones, but as usage increase more SMEs will be utilising the devises.
“We’re going to see a whole lot of more applications leading to even more business efficiency,” he predicts.
Perhaps in the future SMEs will have the edge over big business in more ways than one.