From Manual to Mobile - Speeding Business Success for SMBs

This report by SMB Group's Laurie McCabe, sponsored by Concur, dives deeper into one of SMB Group's "Top 10 SMB Technology Trends" also available on, which discusses how mobile momentum continues, but mobile management lags.   

Generational shifts, the rise of the remote workforce and the growth of the gig economy are reshaping the workforce and our definition of the workplace. Today’s workers increasingly need—and expect—to get their work done anytime, anywhere and from the device of their choice.

Therefore, it’s no wonder that U.S. small and medium businesses (SMBs, defined here as businesses with 1 to 1,000 employees) have taken to mobile like fish to water: 68% strongly agree/agree that mobile solutions are critical to their business.

However, getting the most business value from mobile investments involves more than just outfitting workers with the latest mobile gadgets. By equipping employees with the right mobile business solutions, companies can cut the time that workers spend on repetitive chores so they can devote more time to activities aimed at growing the business. SMBs must also take measures to ensure that they are managing and protecting their data wherever it resides.


Drivers for Mobilizing Your Workforce

Several demographic trends are combining to alter the composition of the workforce and our expectations of how and where work gets done.

First, we are in the midst of a huge generational shift. According to the Pew Research Center, millennials (those born between 1981 and 1997) surpassed the baby boomer population (those born between 1946 and 1963) as our country’s largest living generation in 2015. About 10,000 boomers started turning 65 every day in 2015, and about 10,000 more will cross that threshold daily for the next 19 years. As baby boomers retire, many will be replaced by millennials, who have different attitudes about work than prior generations. For instance, SMB Group research shows that younger SMB decision makers are more likely than their older counterparts to agree with the following statements: “Mobile solutions are changing how we communicate and collaborate” and “We want to make it easier for employees to work from home.”

Next, the gig economy is growing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one-third of American workers are now freelancers, contractors or contingent workers. Forecasters predict that this segment will grow to 43% by 2020. Gig workers include self-employed as well as temp workers, contractors, on-call workers and part-time employees across industries—from construction to pet care, from accounting to healthcare, and from creative design to programming. As shown in Figure 2, SMBs’ reliance on external contractors across many functions is rising.

Finally, more employees are working remotely. 57% of SMBs say that 20% or more of their workforce travels for work, and 14% expect this number to increase in the next year. In addition, more employees are working from home: 30% of SMBs now support telecommuting for 20% or more of their employees, and 18% expect the percentage of their telecommuting workers to increase in the next year.

These trends fuel the need for more effective, flexible ways to collaborate and get work done—whether at home or in the office, by salaried employee or contractor, millennial or baby boomer. Although the PC is far from dead, workers increasingly expect to have the ability to do more of their tasks on a phone or tablet rather than at a desktop.

57% of SMBs indicate that 50% or more of their employees now use mobile devices for business purposes. The use of basic mobile productivity apps such as email, contacts and calendar are now mainstream:87% of SMBs say that their employees use these apps as part of regular business operations (Figure 4). The regular use of other mobile apps—such as online file sharing, document creation and editing, GPS/navigation and conferencing apps—to support the business is also becoming the norm.