The Growing Importance of Mobile for Small Business

Small businesses are taking to emerging wireless equipment and technology faster than ever, including use of tablets, 4G devices, and mobile apps. Nearly all small businesses surveyed - 96% - use wireless technology in one or more forms, with almost 2/3 saying they could not survive, or that it would be a major challenge to survive, without them, according to the 2012 AT&T Small Business Technology Poll.

"More than ever, we're seeing small businesses leverage the benefits afforded by wireless technologies, whether they be smartphones, tablets, mobile apps, or 4G speeds," said Ebrahim Keshavarz, AT&T vice president of Small Business Product Management.

"There's no doubt that with 'virtual offices' and remote workforces becoming more and more prevalent, AT&T will remain committed to offering innovative and affordable mobility solutions, helping small businesses reduce costs and increase productivity over both the short- and long-term."

Zooming in on survey results across General Wireless Technologies, Smartphones and Mobile Applications, AT&T found the following:

General Wireless Technologies

  • Nearly all small businesses (96%) surveyed use wireless technologies in their operations, with almost two-thirds (63%) indicating that they could not survive - or it would be a major challenge to survive - without wireless technologies.
  • More than four in 10 (43%) small businesses surveyed report all of their employees use wireless devices or technologies to work away from the office, a nearly 80% jump from three years ago.
  • Despite being a relatively new technology, two-thirds (67%) of small businesses surveyed indicate that they use tablet computers, up from 57% a year ago.
  • By end of 2012, some 50% of small businesses surveyed expect to have all their employees using wireless technologies to work away from the office.


  • 85% of small businesses reported using smartphones for their operations, up from 80% last year and more than double the usage five years ago (42%).
  • 4G Devices (delivered by LTE in select markets or HSPA+ with enhanced backhaul where available):
  • One third of smartphones used by small businesses for business purposes are 4G.
  • Nearly nine in 10 (86%) of the businesses using 4G smartphones are satisfied with the speed.
  • Of those who don't have 4G devices, more than one-third (35%) report that they expect to purchase 4G smartphones within the next year, and more than half (54%) within the next two years.


  • 50% of small businesses indicated that touchscreen is the predominant type of keypad in their operations, followed by traditional QWERTY keypads at 21%.
  • 21% indicated that their businesses use both types of smartphone keypads.

Mobile Applications

  • Almost one-third (30%) of small businesses surveyed use mobile apps for their business, with key reasons being to save time, increase productivity and reduce costs.
  • Mobile apps are gaining in importance for small businesses that use them, with half (50%) saying they could not survive - or it would be a major challenge to survive - without mobile apps, a 31% jump over the past year.
  • Of small businesses using mobile apps, GPS navigation and mapping are by far the most popular with 80% of business owners using them, followed by location-based services (44%) and social media marketing (42%).
Written by Kevin Kutcher at 10:00
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