Small Business Owners Want More Useful Apps and Cloud Options

Almost nine out of ten small business owners say they use apps, cloud-based programs and other mobile technologies, but most (almost 60 percent) don't think there are enough that are relevant or useful to their own business. Those findings were part of the results of a national online survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Bank of the West.

More than three fourths of the small business owners surveyed who use mobile technology, said they do so most often for communication, including calls, email, text, and instant messaging. Of these same mobile users, 48 percent stating using calendaring and scheduling, and 42 percent use GPS and navigation functions.

They said they see the greatest potential for using mobile technology for the categories of marketing, where mentions increased 94 percent; making and receiving payments, which increased by 82 percent; and CRM (customer relationship database), with an increase of 63 percent. There are numerous apps for these programs, including mobile and web-based payment solutions from Intuit, Sage,, Square, PayPal and others.

Many said they think mobile technology could be made more useful, cost effective and safer for small business purposes. "Few relevant uses for my business" was named the number one barrier to taking advantage of mobile technology, at 33 percent, followed by cost, at 25 percent.

Even though most small business owners surveyed (93%) have never experienced information or data theft as a result of using mobile technology, over half (56%) say concerns about information security have at least somewhat prevented them from implementing it more fully.

Among small business owners who use mobile technology, two out of three (68%) agree that it has increased efficiency for their businesses, and three out of five (61%) say it serves functions in their businesses that cannot be completed as efficiently through other means.

When asked specifically about the time-consuming tasks that mobile technology could better address, small business owners wished for solutions that could help them with accepting payments from customers (33%), monitoring financial accounts (24%), expense reports (19%) and making payments to suppliers (12%). Other financial tasks cited included invoicing and payroll.

Small business owners see the value in mobile tech – and overwhelmingly (83%) believe individuals, entrepreneurs and small businesses can benefit from using it. Two-thirds of those surveyed (65%) say it is important to the current success of their business and nearly three-quarters (74%) think it will be important to the future success of their businesses.

In addition to sponsoring the national survey, "Going Mobile: Small Business Attitudes About Mobile Technology," Bank of the West conducted in-person interviews with small business customers and prospects and asked similar questions.

"As part of our commitment to serving small business owners, we seek to understand the trends and forces that impact their businesses. Our bankers recently sat down with more than 800 small business owners for in-depth, one-on-one conversations about mobile technology – a subject that is having an impact on nearly every aspect of our lives," said Michelle Di Gangi, Small & Mid Enterprise Banking Division Manager, Executive Vice President of Bank of the West. "We learned, and the Harris study supports, that while small business owners are not early adopters of mobile technology – they tend to wait until someone like them has bought it and endorses it – they do see its growing importance in the success of their business. Creating relevant uses that help small businesses systemize customer relationship management, marketing and financial accounting will be critical to the growth of mobile technology in this market."

The full National Survey results, including charts and graphs, is available at: