Sorry State of Small Business IT: Survey

Are small businesses tech savvy? Yes, if you're referring to 1990s technology. Indeed, a survey conducted by Staples and Harris Poll indirectly reveals just how out of touch many small businesses are with today's technology landscape.

Among the survey "highlights": 47 percent of participants said email is their top software tool for running their businesses. Ouch. That was followed by financial management software (29 percent). I don't think the survey drew a line between traditional on-premises software and cloud or hosted options.

Read between the lines, and many small businesses remain hopelessly focused on email when next generation customers and employees (example: the Millennials) increasingly focus on the Big Four IT opportunities: Social, mobile, big data and cloud.

Still, there are some reasons for hope.

  • Small business owners want to improve business by increasing promotional marketing (26%), developing social media (21%) and managing inventory better (14%). On the promotional efforts, I'm curious to know how many of the survey participants leverage HubSpot, ConstantContact, or some other marketing platform.
  • 71% of small business owners say the computer is the most crucial piece of office equipment. That's somewhat reassuring, but I wonder how many of those "computers" are still running Windows XP and antiquated or orphaned applications that have no clear upgrade paths.

Staples is hoping to connect the dots between small business IT needs and the company's EasyTech services. The company failed to mention that it recently punted on a portion of the SMB IT services market by selling off its Thrive Networks business.

About the survey methodology: Staples says the survey was conducted online in the US from Aug. 26 to Sept. 2. It was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Duffy & Shanley (and its client, Staples). Fully 510 U.S. small business owners participated.

PS: Special thanks to anonymous reader who sent me the typo fix. I look forward to that CEO interview down the road. ;-)

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