SMBs are increasingly relying on a strong base of mobile devices, but are still mostly using the technology for lower-level business tasks.

As demonstrated by results of the AT&T Small Business Tech Poll 2012, this situation holds significant potential for MSPs who can communicate how managed wireless services can help SMBs perform higher-value activities that increase the ROI of their wireless investments.

SMBs Take to Tablets

Two in three SMBs now use tablet computers, up almost 18 percent from about 57 percent in 2011. However, despite this strong growth in tablet usage, most SMBs only leverage tablets for simple tasks such as checking email (75 percent) and surfing the web (61 percent), with only 24 percent using them to manage the business and 19 percent hosting web and/or video conferences with tablets.

Now that a large percentage of SMBs have gained basic comfort and familiarity with using tablets for routine activities such as email, MSPs can upsell them on using tablet-based managed services to perform higher-level tasks and affordably extend the corporate network.

4G Trends Open SMB Smartphone Possibilities

Eighty-five percent of small businesses reported using smartphones for their operations, up from 80 percent last year and more than double the usage five years ago (42 percent). One-third of those devices run on high-speed, robust 4G networks. And of SMBs who don’t have 4G devices, more than one-third (35 percent) report that they plan to purchase 4G smartphones within the next year, and more than half (54 percent) within the next two years.

4G networks allow smartphones to operate much more quickly and carry much higher loads of data, allowing them to become advanced business tools similar in capability to larger devices such as netbooks or tablets (see above). MSPs should find out which of their smartphone-using SMB clients is on or plans to be on a 4G network and then design a set of advanced mobile services that will maximize their clients’ smartphone business potential.

SMBs Find Wireless Tech Significant

The report also indicates that SMBs have a generally positive outlook on wireless technology and recognize its importance as a business tool. Nearly all SMBs (96 percent) surveyed use wireless technologies in their operations, with almost two-thirds (63 percent) indicating that they could not survive, or it would be a major challenge to survive, without wireless technologies.

In addition, more than four in 10 (43 percent) small businesses surveyed report all of their employees use wireless devices or technologies to work away from the office, a nearly 80 percent jump from about 25 percent three years ago, and 50 percent of SMBs expect to have all their employees wirelessly working at home by the end of 2012.

Clearly, SMBs understand what wireless technology can do for them and have initially embraced it. MSPs must now move their SMB clients past the first kiss stage with wireless technology into serious relationship mode. Like any relationship, this will take some effort, charm and consideration, and may even produce some heartache along the way, but could result in something beautiful and lasting.