Study: 81% of Small Businesses Plan to Invest in Cloud, Mobile Tech

Eugene, Ore.

A new study from Palo Alto Software reveals that nearly half of small business owners plan to invest at least $5,000 in new technology this year, with an emphasis on mobile and cloud-based tools.

The “Where Main Street Meets Technology” study, which surveyed roughly 500 small business owners and entrepreneurs, found that 81 percent of small businesses plan to invest in technology this year. Although small businesses are usually more conservative with technology-related expenditures, the entrepreneurs surveyed expressed willingness to make changes to improve daily processes.

Though small businesses want to invest in tech, they still feel most comfortable committing to basic tools like email marketing, business management software and accounting tools. When asked which tools they’re most likely to purchase, sales automation, A/B testing and survey technology were last on their list of priorities.

“The economy is recovering and small businesses are more willing to take risks that could pay off in the long run,” said Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software.”But business owners aren’t going to spend their limited budgets on anything beyond the basics. They see tools like email marketing and business planning software as solid investments that will lead to increased sales in the coming year.”

Survey respondents indicated a willingness to run more of their business from mobile devices. Eighty-nine percent of respondents said they use a smartphone to run their business occasionally, and 56 reported using tablets. Email, social media and banking were the most common business tasks completed on mobile apps. Further, 63 percent of those surveyed plan to increase their use of mobile devices for business.

According to the survey, small business owners also understand that siloed business systems will no longer work for their operations. Regardless of industry, more small business owners are using SaaS (software as a service) tools to run a large portion of their businesses in the cloud. Email management, file sharing and business planning are the most popular cloud-based tools.

Additionally, the survey found that accounting software is critical to business operations for almost half of those surveyed, where Excel and QuickBooks are still favored by both entrepreneurs and more established businesses. Only 10 percent of respondents said they use no accounting tool at all.

“The most sophisticated business tools are no longer only for organizations at enterprise scale,” said Parsons. “Entrepreneurs and small businesses can use a combination of tools to run their business effectively without breaking the bank or becoming overwhelmed by complicated technology. With the right tools, SMBs can continue to grow and prepare for the future.”

To download the full report, “Where Main Street Meets Technology,” visit the Palo Alto Software website.