Small Businesses More Likely to Choose Standard Technologies
This quarter, the MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index surveyed small businesses about their attitudes towards technology adoption for their business, cybersecurity, and data privacy. One of the key findings is that small businesses are more inclined to use standard technologies that support daily operational functions (like computer accounting systems) rather than technologies that are perceived as less essential to day-to-day business (like cloud computing or big data analysis).
Other important findings from the survey include:
- Most small businesses (54%) are concerned about cybersecurity threats and 50% agree that data privacy issues are a challenge. In response to both issues, they believe that more information and awareness about threats would be the best solution.
- Small businesses tend to think they fall in the middle of the pack when it comes to technological adoption.
According to the survey, small businesses also show pragmatism when they invest in technology:
- They prefer to use technologies that support daily operational functions, such as computer accounting systems (84%) and data privacy software (53%).
- They are less likely to adopt technologies such as cloud computing (46%) and big data analysis (15%) that are perceived as less crucial for day-to-day operations.
- They gravitate towards tools that help expand their customer base, such as social media management (52%) or email marketing tools (50%).
Small Businesses Prefer Standard Technologies to Help Them Grow
Small businesses are more likely to turn to standard technologies that support daily operational functions according to the survey.
Case in point, an overwhelming majority of small businesses (84%) use computer accounting systems. At least one in two use: (53%) data privacy software, (52%) social media management tools, and (50%) email marketing tools.
Less widely used are technologies like cloud computing and big data: Smartphone apps for scheduling (46%), cloud computing (46%), customer relationship management (CRM) systems (28%), and big data analysis (15%) are used by less than half of small businesses.
Just over half of small businesses (52%) report using social media management tools, and Facebook is the runaway favorite platform to be on.
Overall, small businesses report that their most widely-used social media platforms are:
- Facebook (90%)
- Instagram (43%)
- LinkedIn (39%)
Small Businesses Prefer Cost-Effective Tech Investments
Small businesses identify cost as, by far, the biggest factor keeping them back from adopting new technologies. Their largest concerns cited when deciding on new technologies are:
- Cost (44%)
- The time it takes for IT training (25%)
- Lack of understanding of new technologies (19%)
Cost issues are a particular problem for larger small businesses (20-500 employees). 50% of businesses with more than 20 employees say cost is a concern in adopting new technology compared to 42% for medium-sized (four-19 employees) small businesses. 44% of smaller (less than four employees) small businesses say cost is a concern in adopting new technology. By sector, businesses in services (50%) and retail (51%) are the most likely to believe that costs are a major barrier for them.
Technology adoption varies across sectors, with certain industries leading in distinct categories:
- Small retailers lead in the adoption of social media management tools (63%) and email marketing tools (56%).
- Professional services lead in cloud computing (60%), CRM software (35%) and data privacy software (64%).
- Manufacturing leads in computer-based accounting (88%). But it has the lowest adoption rate in social media management tools (38%), email marketing tools (42%), cloud computing (37%), CRM software (17%) and big data analysis (10%).
Majority of Small Businesses Concerned About Cybersecurity
A majority of small businesses (54%) are concerned about cybersecurity threats and one in two (50%) agree that data privacy issues are a challenge for their business.
Larger small businesses and those in the West are more concerned about cybersecurity. Businesses in the West (56%) are more inclined than their counterparts in other regions to believe cybersecurity threats are a problem. Small businesses with over 20 employees (57%) are more concerned about cybersecurity than their smaller peers.
By sector, professional service firms (62%) are by far the most likely to be concerned about cybersecurity, while manufacturing firms (44%) are the least likely to be concerned. Similarly, professional services (59%) and services (55%) are significantly more inclined to agree that data privacy issues are a challenge.
When asked what things about cybersecurity they would like to know in order to protect their small business, most small business owners mention:
- Understanding what kind of threats are most prevalent.
- Knowing how threats and viruses are spread.
- Ways they can stay secure.