The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council has issued a new report that demonstrates just how much of a hotbed of activity the small business sector is for mobile apps—evidence of just how much the developer community should be paying attention.
The study, conducted in conjunction with research firm TechnoMetrica, focuses on businesses with less than 20 employees—those that truly need more automation for things like payments, bookkeeping, inventory and the like because they don’t have, and can’t afford, the staff to devote to it. Nearly half of the businesses surveyed reported using smartphones. And more than three-quarters of them (78 percent) said mobile apps are saving them significant time—an average of about 5.6 hours per week. The report also cites employee time savings among respondents at 5 employee hours per week thanks to apps.
The SBE Council extrapolates that 725.3 million hours saved annually for small businesses, or an estimated $17.6 billion in savings annually based on average pay for small businesses employees. The group further speculates that if all employer firms with fewer than 20 workers took advantage of mobile apps, the estimated 2.34 billion employee hours saved would translate into an estimated $56.9 billion in savings each year.
Those are massive numbers, even if they are speculative. But here’s where it gets interesting for developers:
According to the study, GPS navigation and mapping apps are the most popular (68 percent), followed by apps for contact management (46 percent) and remote document access (41 percent). Next is travel planning (32 percent), banking and finance management (30 percent), social media marketing (27 percent), location-based services (23 percent), invoicing and time tracking (22 percent), delivery and shipment management (18 percent), expense tracking (17 percent) and processing credit card payments (13 percent).
The SBE Council study provides a very positive endorsement of what mobile apps can do for the small business sector:
The entrepreneur’s time is certainly their firm’s most precious resource. The time of their employees is most valuable as well, and managing this resource effectively is often what separates the successful firms from those that are barely hanging on. Time freed from administrative or redundant tasks means more time for high value work such as customer engagement, research, sales and marketing or collaborative projects. In order to grow, business owners need to focus on new sales and revenue streams and create more value for existing customers. Mobile apps are providing entrepreneurs and their employees with more time, which means they can lead and grow their businesses.
The survey also concludes that 50 percent of small-business mobile app users plan to increase their app exposure within the next six months by either getting more apps, using their current apps more or both.
If you’re a developer with your sights set on SMBs—and you believe in research—you have a roadmap for how to invest your development time and dollars.