Mobile Solutions for Today's Small Business


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Mobile Solutions for Today's Small Business

  1. 1. 50 Years of Growth, Innovation and LeadershipMobile Solutions for Today’s Small Business:The Need for Affordable, Easy-to-Use Products and Support A Frost & Sullivan White Paper
  2. 2. Frost & SullivanIntroduction .................................................................................................... 4Today’s Small Business Sector: Sink or Swim.................................................. 4Understanding the Unique Needs of Small Businesses ................................... 5Mobile Solutions for Today’s Small Business ................................................... 6 Mobile Devices ................................................................................................ 6 Mobile Applications ......................................................................................... 7 Network Connectivity Solutions ...................................................................... 8 Service and Support ........................................................................................ 8Choosing a Mobility Partner ........................................................................... 9Sprint Biz 360: Watching Out for Small Businesses ........................................ 12 CONTENTS
  3. 3. Frost & Sullivan INTRODUCTION In today’s rough-and-tumble world, U.S. small business owners are praised as gutsy entrepreneurs whose achievements and ongoing vigor are essential to the success of the American economy. However, the small business experience is a precarious one, with high failure rates and constant pressures. Financial success is based on the ability to control expense, maximize productivity and revenues, and keep customers happy. Mobile technology can help accomplish every one of these objectives. TODAY’S SMALL BUSINESS SECTOR: SINK OR SWIM The impact of small businesses in the U.S. cannot be overemphasized. Small businesses represent more than 98 percent of U.S. employer firms, or approximately 5.8 million businesses (2008 Census). In addition, there are 21.3 million non- employer firms—typically small, single-person businesses. 1 The small employer firms alone hire more than half of all private sector employees and generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the most recently researched 15-year time period. 2 Clearly, small business success is essential to overall U.S. economic success. Employment Size of Employer and Non-Employer Firms, 2008 (Summary of U.S. Census Bureau Table 2a) Employment Size of Enterprise Number of Firms Non-Employer Firms 21,351,320 Employer Firms 5,930,132 Firms with 1 to 4 employees 3,617,784 Firms with 5 to 9 employees 1,044,065 Firms with 10 to 19 employees 633,141 Firms with 20 to 99 employees 526,307 Firms with 100 to 499 employees 90,386 Firms with 500+ employees 18,469 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, “Employment Size by Firms,” 4
  4. 4. Mobile Solutions for Today’s Small BusinessUnfortunately, small business failure rates are not for the timid. Exact failurehistories remain a strongly contested topic, given the difficulty of obtaining andinterpreting good data on small companies. However, generally accepted estimatespoint to about two-thirds of small business startups surviving their first two yearsand about half making it to four years. About one-third survives 10 years.The three central success imperatives for smaller entities are: • Cost management—controlling and reducing expense • Profitability—boosting revenues, productivity, and market share • Customer satisfaction—satisfying and retaining customersThese objectives require sacrifice, risk-taking, and focus. For an increasing numberof small businesses, they also require a willingness to deploy and utilize mobilecommunications solutions. While members of the small business sector tend to laglarger businesses in technology adoption, it is time to recognize that today’sgeneration of mobility solutions can be a means to quickly become morecompetitive, profitable, and productive.UNDERSTANDING THE UNIQUE NEEDS OF SMALL BUSINESSESSmall business establishments face a number of challenges when it comes toadopting new technology: • Reduced funds: Frugality and sacrifice are key requirements for small business success. Any new expenditure must offer a quick, clear return on investment. In a 2011 small business survey conducted by Frost & Sullivan, the top barriers to mobility purchases focused on cost. Respondents pointed to both general concerns (“total cost of ownership”) and very specific worries (“cost of required hardware,” “integration expense,” “customization expense”). The message is clear: Affordable pricing is a must; fast, hard-dollar ROI is a given. • Limited technological expertise: It is a rare small business that has a dedicated IT staff, so a low level of internal knowledge regarding mobility vendors and solutions can act as a natural brake on adoption decisions. A knowledgeable purchase will typically require third-party assistance during the review, purchase, implementation, and even ongoing management phases. In the process, both expense and control issues can surface. • Lack of targeted solutions: So-called small business solutions are often large business products with half of the bells and whistles turned off. Smaller companies need more focused functionality and solutions that are tailored to meet their unique communications needs. This calls for innovative thinking on the part of the provider. 5
  5. 5. Frost & Sullivan • Erratic attention from vendors: Especially in the mobility sector, past vendor attention has largely been dedicated to satisfying big company needs. This resulted in a limited selection of product alternatives and a lower level of sales and technical support for the small business owner. Fortunately, an increasing number of mobile solution vendors are now expanding their focus to actively support small business mobility needs. MOBILE SOLUTIONS FOR TODAY’S SMALL BUSINESS Savvy providers are building mobile solution portfolios that are truly targeted to smaller company needs. Mobile products and services naturally segment into four solution categories: Mobile Devices Small businesses face a plethora of mobile device alternatives. While basic feature phones are still used by a number of workers, it is the smartphone and the tablet that are receiving increased attention in the workplace. Smartphones often belong to the employee (not the company) and typically include the Apple ® iPhone ®, RIM ® BlackBerry ®, and/or assorted Android models. These devices are equal parts handheld computer and mobile phone, and offer touch screens, increasingly powerful processors, and rapid Web browsers. Graphics are crisp, and location awareness has become a standard feature. The new, feature-packed tablets are also entering the small business workplace. Weighing about 1 pound, less than half-an-inch thick, and offering 7- to 10-inch displays, these devices are extremely portable. They also deliver speed, performance, and high-resolution displays. Screen size is their primary advantage over smartphones—a benefit that can be especially attractive in certain industries. The disadvantage? A comprehensive library of mobile business applications for tablets is still under construction—although developers are working hard to create new software solutions specifically designed to leverage the tablet’s unique capabilities. A third device category is the ruggedized mobile handheld computer, designed to operate in even the most extreme work environments. Intermec ® and Motorola ® are two major manufacturers of these tough, water- and temperature- resistant devices. While their comparatively high price points would seem destined to frighten off cost-conscious businesses, Frost & Sullivan’s 2011 survey revealed that a significant percentage of small businesses that are using mobile applications (19 to 33 percent) are using them on ruggedized mobile computing devices. The introduction of more consumerized, less expensive versions of these rugged handhelds has undoubtedly increased their popularity, especially in companies that have mobile service and/or sales personnel. 6
  6. 6. Mobile Solutions for Today’s Small Business Mobile Device Categories: Current Strengths and Vulnerabilities Mobile Device Strengths Vulnerabilities Feature Phone Less expensive Fewer features and capabilities Touchscreen; crisp graphics; Small screens; easy to lose; powerful processors; rapid may require after-market Smartphone Web browsing; location casing to protect awareness; large collection from drops of applications Large, sharp displays; Price; may require after- Tablets powerful processors; market casing to protect portable size; rapid Web from drops; still-growing browsing; dual cameras selection of applications Temperature, water, and Price; heavier form factor Rugged Devices drop resistantMobile ApplicationsMobile software solutions in the workplace are becoming increasingly popular, in nosmall part because of employees’ familiarity with mobile consumer apps on theirsmartphones. Application developers have strengthened and expanded their smallbusiness options in recent months, offering easy-to-use software products thatstreamline work processes and increase employee productivity. Depending upon theapplication, mobile phones and tablets can track workers, take credit cardpayments, provide wireless forms, push e-mail, or organize documents andcustomer data for easy access. And these solutions are often priced on anaffordable per-user/per-month basis.Not surprisingly, small businesses have signaled a high level of enthusiasm for thesetypes of software solutions. In fact, in the 2011 Frost & Sullivan survey, more thanhalf of small business respondents already consider mobile applications as beingvery or somewhat necessary to business success.These small businesses realize that mobile applications can exert a significant andpositive impact on employee productivity levels. Current users report being highlysatisfied with these solutions, and the reasons are readily apparent. Hard-dollar ROIimpacts include reduced paperwork, higher job completion rates, less employee 7
  7. 7. Frost & Sullivan overtime, and an overall decrease in labor expense. The survey responses from users of mobile workforce management apps (solutions that track mobile worker location) are representative of current small business feedback regarding mobile software solutions: Top Return on Investment Impact Q: Please select the top three ROI impacts your business or organization has experienced while using a mobile workforce management solution. Reduced paperwork 46% Reduced labor expense Mobile 38% Workforce Management Higher job completion rates 31% Application % of Small Business Respondents Citing Impact Source: Frost & Sullivan, 2011 Mobile Enterprise Applications Survey Network Connectivity Solutions Small businesses are starting to follow the example of consumers and have begun unplugging their landline phones. When the owner and/or employees are spending large amounts of time outside of the business establishment and are regularly handing out their cell phone numbers to customers and partners, a wireline phone begins to make less financial sense. Some wireless carriers are trying to make this transition as smooth as possible with reasonably priced voice plans, easy number portability, and popular White Pages listings. Wireless routers, mobile broadband cards, and affordable data plans make it possible for workers to access wireless 3G and 4G network coverage indoors and out. Service and Support When asked to rank the top criteria their firms use to evaluate potential mobility partners, small businesses included post-sale service and support as one of their top four considerations. In fact, 71 percent of SMB respondents specifically point to 24x7 contact center support as a service they expect their mobility partner to provide. 8
  8. 8. Mobile Solutions for Today’s Small Business Service and Support Expectations Q: What types of service and support do you expect to be made available by your preferred mobile partner? (Please check all that apply.) 24x7 call center support 71% Application customization 54% On-site support 46% Implementation/deployment 35% project management Needs/ROI analysis 27% Back-end integration 25% Process mapping 22% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% All SMB Survey Respondents* *1–99 Employees Source: Frost & Sullivan, 2011 Mobile Enterprise Applications SurveySmall businesses typically do not have the internal resources to address day-to-daytechnical concerns. And, as mentioned earlier, they also tend to lack real expertiseregarding today’s mobile vendor and solution options. Savvy vendors are providingmore support during the needs assessment stage, more handholding during initialimplementation, and regular follow-up once the solution has been up and runningfor a period of time. They also provide 24/7 tech support via phone or online.CHOOSING A MOBILITY PARTNERSelecting the correct mobility partner is a critical first step toward choosing theright solutions and implementing them in a supportive, efficient manner. Smallbusinesses have an assortment of potential partners available to them and shouldtake their time in evaluating their alternatives.Today’s potential mobility partners tend to fall into five major categories: 1. Wireless carriers 2. Major corporate software vendors 3. Mobile application vendors 4. Mobile device manufacturers 5. Value-added resellers 9
  9. 9. Frost & Sullivan Wireless carriers continue to rank first as the small business owners’ preferred mobility partner—far outdistancing the other choices in today’s mobile enterprise applications ecosystem. Preferred Small Business Mobility Partner, North America, 2011 Q: Please indicate the one party you prefer to have as your strategic partner when it comes to mobile enterprise applications. 1% 5% 13% Wireless carrier Major corporate software vendor 48% Application vendor 14% Mobile device manufacturer A VAR (value added reseller) Other 19% Source: Frost & Sullivan, 2011 Mobile Enterprise Applications Survey The reasoning behind this continued preference is straightforward: • Wireless carriers are unique in the long-standing, direct touch relationship they have built with smaller businesses. This has resulted in a rare level of familiarity and trust. • Many carriers have sharpened their focus on satisfying small business needs, forestalling any major move toward alternative providers. • Many carriers are comfortable acting as a single source for mobile business solutions. By partnering with other stakeholders and acting as the single point of contact, they can make the purchase and implementation process significantly easier for the small business owner. 10
  10. 10. Mobile Solutions for Today’s Small BusinessCriteria to consider when selecting a mobility partner include:Features and functionality: The communications needs of smaller businesses maynot be as complex as those of their larger enterprise counterparts; however, it isimperative that they be clearly defined and addressed. Prospective customers must avoidbeing sold an over-featured solution that was designed to be used by larger companies.Quality and reliability: The U.S. mobility sector remains fragmented, with anabundance of vendors competing for market share. While vulnerable participants arestill shaking out, it is imperative for customers to conduct due diligence—and searchfor only high-quality, highly reliable solutions. This expectation of quality applies toall components of a mobile solution—including hardware, software, and the wirelessnetwork utilized. The vendor must also be financially stable, have established apositive brand reputation, and be willing to provide reference customers.Ease of implementation/deployment: Many vendors are offering “out-of-the-box”solutions that require little customization on the customer’s part. According to the2011 Frost & Sullivan mobility survey, 25 to 35 percent of current small business userswere able to implement their mobile application solutions directly out of the box.Another 58 to 67 percent encountered a need for limited customization and werecomfortable handling that need in-house. In addition to simple start-up, the workermust be absolutely comfortable and confident using the solution on a day-to-day basis.Scalability: Ideally, solutions will be able to grow with the business’s needs.Prospective customers should look for modular or tiered offerings that can add onnew capabilities as company requirements evolve.Affordability: “Cost of doing business” is the #1 criterion used today by smallbusinesses to choose their mobility partners. Solutions can include multiplecomponents (software, hardware, wireless network connectivity, professionalservices, etc.), and the customer should understand exactly what it is paying for.When possible, small businesses should give serious consideration to implementinghosted solutions that charge on a per-user/per-month basis. This avoids capexspending. The mobility provider may also be willing to work with other partners tooffer hardware discounts, waive certain upfront costs, or incorporate some of thetraditional upfront expenses into the monthly fee.Service and support: Without an internal IT staff, small businesses feeltechnologically vulnerable. Mobile solutions are only effective if they operateproperly and dependably. A single source for care and support across all of thesolution’s elements should be required. The savviest providers will work closely(and directly) with customers during the initial post-deployment period in order tominimize and address any launch difficulties. In addition, ongoing 24/7/365 technicalsupport should be available by phone and online. 11
  11. 11. Frost & Sullivan Selecting the Right Mobility Partner Selection Criteria for Mobile Solutions Partner FEATURES AND FUNCTIONALITY: Does the device include the optimal mix of capabilities and features to meet your current mobile communications requirements? QUALITY AND RELIABILITY: Does the vendor have a reputation for high-quality products? Is the vendor financially stable and willing to provide reference customers? EASE OF IMPLEMENTATION AND DEPLOYMENT: Is the solution deployable right out of the box, with little or minimal customization required? Is the solution easy to understand and use? SCALABILITY: Can the solution grow with your business needs? AFFORDABILITY: Will your mobility partner offer per user/per month pricing? Are discounts available? SERVICE AND SUPPORT: Does the vendor act as the single point of contact for service? Will the vendor work closely and directly with you during initial post-deployment? Is 24/7/365 technical support available via phone and online? Using these criteria to choose a mobile solutions partner can positively impact the small business’s ability to increase productivity, enhance profits, and satisfy customers. SPRINT BIZ 360: WATCHING OUT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES Frost & Sullivan views Sprint as an excellent example of an end-to-end mobile solution provider for the small business sector. The carrier has identified and vetted top-tier mobility partners, and has assembled a “Biz 360” portfolio of network connectivity options, devices, applications and support that are tailor-made to address small business needs. Small companies can combine the elements that will optimize their business operations, and know that the solutions are well-designed and thoroughly supported. Sprint Biz 360 solutions start with customizable wireless voice and data options. The carrier is the only major U.S. service provider that offers an unlimited mobile data plan—an option that can provide a significant level of savings for small businesses on tight budgets. 12
  12. 12. Mobile Solutions for Today’s Small BusinessSprint’s Biz 360 portfolio also includes:Phone Solutions: Sprint offers a focused and innovative mobile device portfoliothat stays current with market developments. • 3G and 3G/4G smartphones include models from Apple, Samsung ®, Motorola, HTC ®, RIM and others. • Tablets include the BlackBerry PlayBook™, Motorola Xoom™, and HTC Evo View 4G. • Rugged phones include the Motorola ES400S, a ruggedized model that scans barcodes, accepts credit cards, and captures signatures—and can survive multiple hard-contact drops. • A selection of notebooks is being created, with the Dell ™ Inspiron ™ as the first ultra-mobile option available. • The carrier also offers Sprint Phone Connect, which allows small businesses to plug their existing phone hardware into an adapter that connects to Sprint’s 3G/4G wireless network. The adapter can be used anywhere, porting the wireline number over for seamless presentation to customers.Another element of the Sprint Phone Solutions portfolio is the carrier’sWhitePages ™ Verified Listings offer. This solution ensures that a listing of thebusiness’s wireless phone number(s) is included on (a top 50Internet destination) with featured placement in search results.Productivity Solutions: These software and hardware products enhance theproductivity of mobile employees and capture revenue-generating opportunitiesright at the point of sale. Current offerings include: • Sprint Workforce Locator—Using locationing technology, this application keeps track of employees in the field and issues an alert if a designated boundary is crossed. With this kind of real-time visibility, businesses can maximize worker productivity and optimize gasoline usage by mapping out the most direct routes. • Actsoft ™ Mobile Business Forms—This solution allows employees to fill out forms right on their smartphones or tablets, and then transmit the information directly to their office or business establishment. This decreases the number of steps and the time required to capture important data. It also minimizes data entry errors and easily integrates with Quicken ® financial software. “Reduced paperwork” is the top ROI impact of today’s mobile applications, and this wireless form’s capability is one of the reasons why. • AirCharge ® AirBlue Mini—AirBlue Mini is a small piece of hardware that turns the mobile phone into a wireless credit card machine. Workers can swipe customer credit cards, get real-time authorizations, and print receipts—all on the customer’s doorstep. 13
  13. 13. Frost & Sullivan Connectivity and Back-Up Solutions: For mobile employees, network connectivity difficulties can be especially frustrating—especially when they happen in front of customers. Sprint provides a focused set of connectivity tools that includes both mobile hot spot devices and broadband cards for portable Wi-Fi and 3G/4G network connections. In addition, Sprint recognizes the small business’s critical need for network redundancy. If primary Internet service is interrupted for any reason, the carrier offers a back-up solution that automatically kicks in and keeps the business connected. Customer Support Solutions: The carrier has designed programs specifically to assist small businesses in choosing, deploying, and managing their mobile solutions. These include the Sprint Business Advocate Program. As part of this program, Sprint specialized care representatives proactively monitor solution set-up and circle back for periodic account reviews to make sure needs are being met. 24/7/365 tech support is available online or by phone. Simply put, the Sprint Biz 360 program offers a focused portfolio of mobile products and support that small businesses desperately need in today’s complex technology environment. At the same time, discounts and device upgrade deals have been designed to keep small business mobile solutions affordable. Mobile technology should be viewed by smaller businesses as the solution, not as a struggle. Properly implemented, mobile offerings can help save money, increase productivity and revenues, and simply make customers happier. To learn more about how the Sprint Biz 360 program can help small businesses thrive in today’s marketplace, please visit 1 U.S. Census Bureau, “Statistics About Business Size (Including Small Businesses) from the U.S. Census Bureau,” 2 U.S. Small Business Administration, “How important are small businesses to the U.S. economy?” 14
  14. 14. Silicon Valley San Antonio London 331 E. Evelyn Ave. Suite 100 7550 West Interstate 10, 4, Grosvenor Gardens, Mountain View, CA 94041 Suite 400, London SWIW ODH,UK Tel 650.475.4500 San Antonio, Texas 78229-5616 Tel 44(0)20 7730 3438 Fax 650.475.1570 Tel 210.348.1000 Fax 44(0)20 7730 3343 Fax 210.348.1003 877.GoFrost • http://www.frost.comABOUT FROST & SULLIVANFrost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, partners with clients to accelerate their growth. The companysTEAM Research, Growth Consulting, and Growth Team Membership™ empower clients to create a growth-focusedculture that generates, evaluates, and implements effective growth strategies. Frost & Sullivan employs over 50 yearsof experience in partnering with Global 1000 companies, emerging businesses, and the investment community frommore than 40 offices on six continents. For more information about Frost & Sullivan’s Growth Partnership Services,visit information regarding permission, write:Frost & Sullivan331 E. Evelyn Ave. Suite 100Mountain View, CA 94041Auckland Dubai Mumbai Sophia AntipolisBangkok Frankfurt Manhattan SydneyBeijing Hong Kong Oxford TaipeiBengaluru Istanbul Paris Tel AvivBogotá Jakarta Rockville Centre TokyoBuenos Aires Kolkata San Antonio TorontoCape Town Kuala Lumpur São Paulo WarsawChennai London Seoul Washington, DCColombo Mexico City ShanghaiDelhi / NCR Milan Silicon ValleyDhaka Moscow Singapore