SMEs reap benefits from mobile usage but sceptics remain

Three quarters of SMEs say smartphones are important and critical for business.

A new generation of small businesses are making increasing use of their mobile devices, according to new research from Lloyds Bank.

Three out of four small business owners believe having a smartphone is both critical and important to the smooth running of their company, a survey of 1,000 UK SMEs found. Most of the benefits cited were time and cost savings.

Most of the respondents (71%) who used a smartphone said that it enables them to respond more quickly to orders, queries and complaints, while over half (55%) said that it enables them to carry on running their business and work less from one location, even when on holiday.

More importantly, those using smartphones said that they save on average an hour a day from using mobile technology – equating to 33 business days a year.

Some businesses, however, are resisting mobile technology, mainly because they do not believe it will bring benefits and worry about the cost.

Over two thirds (67%) of non-smartphone users said that they don’t believe there are any benefits, while nearly a third of respondents (31%) that didn’t use a smartphone said that their business does not need the technology to succeed. One in ten (10%) said that owning a smartphone was too costly.

Reaping rewards

Over half of smartphone users (59%) said that they used their smartphones for conducting banking activities or dealing with customer queries (53%), while over a third (37%) said that they used their mobiles to interact with customers on social media to help build deeper relationships.

Looking ahead over the next five years, nearly two thirds (62%) of small businesses that use smartphones believe that mobile technology will ultimately improve their efficiency and profitability, the survey found. 

While smartphone use is set to increase further among businesses, only a fifth of current users (20%) said that they will be able to run their business entirely from their smartphone.

Instead, more than two in three smartphone users (69%) felt that a mix of mobile, tablet and laptop/desktop will dominate their business in the future, rather than one format taking preference. 

“The new generation of smartphone entrepreneurs are seeing clear benefits from using mobile technology,” Nick Williams, consumer digital director for Lloyds Bank. “It gives them greater flexibility in how they run their business as well as significant time and cost savings.

“However there are still many small businesses that could be missing out on trade by not using technology to their advantage. We want to help businesses understand the benefits of technology so that they can interact with their customers in new ways and find new opportunities for growth.”

To help improve digital skills for SMEs, Lloyds Bank has been hosting events in association with the Digital Leaders Network. The digital stakeholder events discuss the findings of the Lloyds Bank Business Digital Index, which found that UK small businesses and charities are at risk from a technology ‘blind spot’.

Events have already been held in Manchester and Newcastle to discuss the insights of the Index with key stakeholders, opinion formers and decision makers.

Together with Go ON UK, the digital skills charity, and local leaders across the business, local government and charity sectors, Lloyds Bank will help identify action points to boost the digital skills of people, small businesses and charities.

Alan Dobie

Alan Dobie

Alan Dobie was assistant editor at Vitesse Media Plc before moving on to a content producer role at Reed Business Information. He has over 17 years of experience in the publishing industry and has held...

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