By Maria Valdez Haubrich
Small businesses are cautious about the outlook for 2013, reports the latest Cbeyond Business Leader Snapshot Survey. The study of business sentiment and technology outlook among decision-makers at small and midsized businesses found that taxes, government regulations, the cost of labor and the federal deficit (are all weighing heavily on small business these days. In addition, 38 percent were concerned about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) would impact their bottom lines in 2013.
In the face of these concerns, one area that small business owners are feeling positive about is the power of technology to help their companies grow. The study asked how companies would use technology in the coming year. Here are the tech tools that small businesspeople say will be “very” or “somewhat” important to them in the coming year:
- 94 percent: network access (high-speed, always-on Internet access
- 94 percent: desktop/laptop management (desktop support,
- 91 percent: applications (security, productivity and collaboration software),
- 90 percent: mobile services
- 82 percent: cloud services
Small and midsized businesses are increasingly embracing the cloud. In fact, more than one in five respondents (21 percent) said it would be a “major challenge” to run their businesses without cloud services (the use of hardware and software delivered online as a service).
That’s not surprising, given that cloud users are overwhelmingly quite happy with the results they’ve obtaining from the cloud. Some 83 percent say the cloud makes their businesses more flexible, 78 percent say it makes them more productive, and 71 percent say the cloud saves their companies money.
In the coming year, small and midsized business leaders say they plan to expand their use of cloud-based solutions to a wide range of business functions, including:
- banking (i.e., online banking or cash management) – 33 percent company email – 33 percent
- file sharing – 30 percent
- data archival – 30 percent
- for accounting – 29 percent
Further evidence of the value of technology to small businesses is that 64 percent of companies in the survey expect to increase their technology budgets in 2013. Just 5 percent expect their tech budgets to shrink; 31 percent say the budget will stay flat.
How will you be leveraging technology in 2013? Will you be turning to the cloud (or are you already doing so)?
Image by Flickr user Horia Varlan (Creative Commons)