NEW REPORT: Mobile Apps Saving Small Businesses More than a Billion Hours Annually

By at 3 June, 2011, 11:15 am

...SBE Council study finds much more potential for savings and productivity increases with stepped-up adoption of mobile apps

A new report published by the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) finds that small businesses are saving a significant amount of time and money by using mobile applications to help run their enterprises. The study, “Saving Time and Money with Mobile Apps: A Small Business ‘App’ortunity,” looks at the growth in mobile technologies and why small businesses are turning to mobile apps to help solve key business challenges. The study also surveyed small business owners and found that mobile apps are helping these entrepreneurs squeeze more productivity from their workweek and enabling employees to do the same. The use of mobile apps among small business owners is also reducing overhead costs, increasing revenues and sales-related activity, improving competitiveness, and even allowing firms to add employees.

The report was released on June 1 as a part of the unveiling of a new mobile app called Jot by Chase Card Services. Jot saves small business owners time in the back office by enabling them to easily track, categorize and organize business expenses in real-time from their mobile devices. Chase partnered with SBE Council on the study.

“Saving Time and Money with Mobile Apps” found that small business owners who use mobile apps estimate that they personally save an average of 5.6 hours weekly. Seventy five percent of small businesses using mobile apps report employee time savings as well – an average of 11.33 hours on a weekly basis. The study estimates that small business owners are saving 372.8 million hours of their own time, and 725.3 million employee hours annually. In total, the co-authors estimate that small businesses are saving almost 1.1 billion hours annually by using mobile apps.

SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan, co-author of the study, said: “Hours of paper-pushing, administrative work, customer research, extra driving trips and unproductive down-time due to, for example, a lack of access to key documents, add up very quickly. Mobile apps are allowing small business owners and their employees to get more time from their day and to focus on higher value work.”

Kerrigan observed that 1.1 billion hours saved is indeed a lot of time, but added that there are an abundant number of opportunities for small businesses to save time and operate more productively. To put the 1.1 billion number into perspective, Kerrigan said that U.S. taxpayers and businesses spend 6.1 billion hours a year alone just to comply with the U.S. tax code. She noted that small business owners and their employees expend significant time on administrative, redundant and even necessary business activities where technological innovations — such as mobile apps – are helping to compress functions while allowing entrepreneurs and their employees to conduct and complete tasks on the go. The study conservatively estimates that an additional 3.54 billion hours could be saved annually by small businesses through wider mobile app adoption.

Study co-author and SBE Council Chief Economist Raymond Keating noted that time saved is money saved: “The time savings derived from the use of mobile apps among small businesses is impressive. Those hours saved, of course, translate into dollars saved. Small business employee hours saved, for example, are worth an estimated $17.6 billion each year, under conservative assumptions. If all small businesses were to take advantage of mobile apps, annual owner hours saved could reach an estimated 1.2 billion, with employee hours saved hitting a projected 2.34 billion. The 2.34 employee hours potentially saved are valued at $56.9 billion annually.”

Mobile apps enable small businesses to focus on sales growth. As reported in the study, small business owners are time-crunched, and would spend more time dealing with one of their toughest challenges – increasing sales and revenues – if they could save time on administrative functions. Nearly 50 percent of the small businesses surveyed for the study believe they have been able to spend more time on growing business revenues due to their use of mobile apps. Fifty one percent of these small businesses say their firms are more competitive, 36 percent were able to reduce overhead costs and 10 percent were even able to add workers because of mobile app usage.

As reported in the study, small businesses overwhelmingly view the Internet as their “most valuable business tool” and firms that are currently using mobile apps plan to significantly increase usage. The authors of the study conclude that rapid innovation and the dawn of the 4G network will accelerate adoption because of faster speeds, newer devices, and enhanced and more effective mobile apps.

“Currently, small businesses face significant challenges and uncertainties, including, for example, an under-performing recovery, rising business costs, the threat of inflation, and high energy costs. But there always are benefits to be found in technological advancements that allow for reduced costs, and the enhanced ability to compete. Mobile apps clearly provide such rewards,” said Keating.

To access “Saving Time and Money with Mobile Apps” please click here.

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