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Survey Shows Mobile Apps Integral to Small Business Operations, Remote Workers on the Rise

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America's small businesses are increasingly reliant on mobile applications, Facebook pages for their companies, and employees working remotely via wireless technologies, according to an AT&T survey. Specifically, nearly three fourths (72%) indicate they use mobile apps in their business, with roughly four in ten (38%) reporting they could not survive or it would be a major challenge to survive without mobile apps.

Also, four in ten (40%) small businesses report all their employees use wireless devices or wireless technologies to work away from the office, a 66% jump over the past two years. One-third (33%) of small businesses indicate they are using cloud-based or software as a service solutions, while another one-third acknowledged they do not know what is meant by these technologies

Mobile Applications: Mobile applications are becoming crucial for small businesses, with nearly four in 10 (38%) businesses surveyed saying they could not survive - or it would be a major challenge to survive - without mobile apps. With nearly three-fourths (72%) of small businesses surveyed indicating they use mobile apps for their business, the driving force behind this widespread adoption is time savings, increased productivity and reduction of costs. Moreover, GPS/navigation and mapping mobile apps are by far the most popular, with nearly half (49%) reporting they use them for their small business.

Remote Workers: Four in ten (40%) of small businesses report that all their employees use wireless devices or wireless technologies to work away from the office. This is up from 24% in 2008 and is expected to grow to 50% by 2012.

Cloud-based and Software as a Service: The AT&T survey also found that one-third (33%) of small businesses indicated that they are using cloud-based or software as a service solutions, a solid adoption rate despite the nascent nature of these services. But cloud solutions are not nearly as critical to small businesses just yet as other technologies, with less than one in five (17%) saying they could not survive - or it would be a major challenge to survive - without these technologies. Moreover, despite recent headlines and media campaigns, nearly one-third (32%) of small businesses surveyed acknowledged they do not know what is meant by cloud-based or software as a service solutions.

Facebook: Considering there are more than 500 million active Facebook users, this year's survey found a significant increase in small businesses that have adopted this social media channel as a business tool, with 41% reporting they have a Facebook page for their business. Usage is up from 27% in 2010, representing a 52% jump in just one year. Additionally, of all businesses reporting that they utilize social media, 41% responded that they've seen measurable success - in terms of better communications and relationships with new and/or existing customers - with these channels.

Wireless Technologies: Ninety-six percent (96%) of small businesses use wireless technologies. In fact, nearly two-thirds (64%) of small businesses surveyed said they could not survive - or it would be a major challenge to survive - without wireless technology.

"From mobile apps and smartphones to Wi-Fi hotspots and cloud-based services, AT&T enables small businesses to be more productive, efficient and successful on their terms," said Lori Lee, AT&T senior vice president of Small Business Marketing. "We expect adoption of these technologies to continue to increase in coming years, especially surrounding mobile apps and cloud services, so we'll remain focused on providing innovative solutions on these fronts going forward."

Regional Variations: Based on responses to four factors - perceived importance of wireless, use of wireless technology, use of mobile apps, and percentage of employees using wireless to work away from the office- a Wireless Quotient, or "WiQ," was calculated for each of the 12 markets surveyed. Each component was weighted in the rankings. For example, use of wireless technology was viewed as more important than the perceived importance of that technology.

Last year, Atlanta and Oklahoma topped the rankings for highest "WiQ." This year, Miami and Atlanta lead the pack with full rankings for the 12 markets as follows:

  1. Miami
  2. Atlanta
  3. San Diego
  4. Dallas
  5. San Francisco
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Washington, D.C.
  8. Chicago
  9. Indianapolis
  10. Kansas City
  11. Boston
  12. Cleveland

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Tags: at&t  boston  miami  dallas  san francisco  washington d.c.  cloud  apps  mobile apps  wi-fi hotspots  USA