Small business technology adoption doesn’t match the value that businesses perceive from it, according to a new survey from Time Warner Cable Business Class (TWCBC) released coincidentally with National Small Business Week. A gap exists between those information and communications technologies (ICT) small businesses believe will improve their businesses and those they actually make use of, the survey found.
The biggest gap pertains to WiFi: while 43 percent of small business respondents offer their customers free WiFi, 80 percent rank it as one of the best ways to attract new customers and believe their customers expect free WiFi, according to a TWCBC news release.
In addition, TWCBC found that a website doesn’t figure into daily business operations of 41 percent of small businesses surveyed. Fifty-one percent aren’t making use of social media “to leverage and reach customers online through owned content.”
Although the majority of small business survey respondents reported they evaluate their ICT once or twice a year, one-third (33 percent) of respondents said their businesses had been negatively affected by outdated technology. Thirty-five percent said they fix tech problems themselves.
TWCBC advises small businesses to take the following steps to optimize their use of ICT:
- Upgrade technology: Business owners see advantages of up-to-date technology, such as easier/quicker access to information (73 percent) and higher customer satisfaction (57 percent). While 93 percent of businesses have updated their technology within the past five years, a bi-annual evaluation is best to ensure technology is helping, instead of holding businesses back.
- Use technology to increase customer satisfaction: WiFi, social media, and company websites enable business owners to increase customer satisfaction, attract new customers and further engage with existing customers. Small businesses should use technology to their advantage and increase customer reach.
- Find the right service provider: The right partner will allow businesses to focus on their work and their customers while ensuring that technology is up-to-date and functioning at optimal levels.
“In order for small businesses to perform at their best, they need to use technology productively,” TWCBC group vice president for small business Maureen Link was quoted as saying. “Whether it’s a restaurant providing WiFi to meet customer expectations, or a printing company using social media to reach new customers, technology provides the means for businesses to help their bottom line.”
Added product management group vice president Satyanarayana Parimi, “The survey reveals that the top ‘must have’ services for small business are fast, reliable Internet access; clear, reliable phone service; and reliable WiFi service at their business location.”