Small Businesses Eager to Adopt More Technology in 2014

The year coming to a close typically leads consumers and small businesses alike to look back on the things they've done in the previous 12 months, and what they will do when the calendar turns over. The end of 2013 is no different, and when it comes to the kinds of changes owners and companies will adopt, many of them seem to be related to becoming more technologically advanced.

Today, 88 percent of owners recently polled said that they either will or want to retire some of the business technologies they've been relying on for some time now, according to a survey from cloud and digital data service j2 Global. For instance, 27 percent of respondents said that they'd like to get rid of their old fax machines and instead rely on digital or online faxing in the future. In fact, about three in five owners polled said that they'd like to save some money this year by investing in their companies' use of cloud services. Another nearly one in four of owners said that they'd like to get rid of their office landline phones, or have already done so, and instead switch to either using theirs and their employees' mobile devices as their primary means of phone communication, or even moving into virtual systems using the cloud.

"The unrelenting trend toward the digital office continues for SMBs across every industry," said Mike Pugh, vice president of marketing for j2 Global. "With the cost-savings and increased productivity entrepreneurs gain as they move more of their business functions to the cloud, we're not surprised this 2014 survey finds SMBs planning to further leverage social media, virtual phone services, email marketing, and online faxing. The overall message from the survey is that the cloud just makes smart business sense for the SMB."

Marketing might not change as much
When it comes to how they'll continue to make their companies more successful through marketing them, owners seem a little more steadfast with their convictions about what works and what doesn't, the report said. For instance, 44 percent said they'd continue to focus on doing these things through email, using tools that help automate the process and also help drive potential customers to share information on their social networking platforms. Just 11 percent of those polled thought that spam filters and other issues would hurt their efforts in this way.

However, it's important to note that mobile options are becoming more attractive, as 14 percent say they're going to make this realm their top marketing priority in the coming year, the report said. Further, seven in 10 businesses polled said that they either already do or are undergoing plans to use Facebook's mobile app to help market their companies and develop them. Other mobile apps on which companies now seem to be placing a priority include Twitter and YouTube, while just 16 percent of business owners say that they'll focus on using Instagram for these efforts in 2014.

Many companies will also spend the coming year looking inward as a means of improving themselves, the report said. For instance, more than one-third of respondents said they'd try to offer more flexible policies to help retain and attract talented workers, while 27 percent will allow their employees to dress casually.

Owners may also want to take the next few weeks to review what they're paying for small business insurance. A little routine maintenance to find the most affordable coverage for workers' compensation or general liability insurance, for instance, can save a company thousands of dollars over the course of the coming year.