In the overwhelming debate about internet marketing across the web, and the much repetitive literature on Ecommerce and business connectivity, one of the most evident trends is still absent. Much of the advisories, articles, opinions, and empirical research for the last decade, has been on when, why, and what to do when implementing Ecommerce strategies, but not how to access connectivity. This surprising omission explains why the use of wireless technology emerged as a surprising reality for market experts, following recently released survey conducted in the US. When it emerged however, it was gigantic surprise.
By the close of 2013, over 98% of small businesses were using wireless connection, globally. Essentially, it is predictable that all small-scale businesses are now relying on wireless technology today. Among these small scale businesses, over 66% would terminate their operations without the wireless technology, meaning that all their operations are enabled and empowered by wireless connectivity. This explains why, following the survey, AT&T reported that all new startups exclusively used wireless connections.
This provokes the question of how such popularity cane be justified. The deliberate choice of the wireless technology has been in part, justified by progressively advancing applications, as well as the reduction of accruing costs. It is noteworthy, that recent growth in mobile computing has positively influenced the use of wireless connection, as most users turn to the mobile phones, smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Nonetheless, wireless connectivity is gradually setting foot into the mainstream business world, and initiating a similar domination as in mobile telephony. For instance, contemporary advances in the design of kiosks have demonstrated an increased usage of wireless connectivity as a component of their intelligent engineering. While progress in such mega applications emerges, nonetheless, wireless technology is already a grand choice of contemporary small businesses.
Most Popular Choices for Wireless Connectivity in Small Businesses
According to the AT&T survey, the choice of the wireless technology in small businesses has been empowered by three distinctive mobile devices, namely:
- By 2013, over 85% of all small-scale businesses in the US were relying on the smartphone to maintain their operations.
- That is comparable with 42% of small businesses in the area, who were using smartphone for operations on 2008.
- In the same year, over 69% of all small-scale businesses in the country relied on a tablet. This was an increase from the 66% of businesses recorded in 2012.
- Interestingly, tablet usage corresponded with business growth, as the smartphone became inadequate.
- According to the survey, only 69% small-scale business firms with less than 50 employees used the tablet, compared to over 90% of small scale businesses with between 51 and 99 employees, using the tablet
- Further, nearly all new startups in the small-scale business category used the tablet to maintain wireless connectivity
3. Mobile Phones
- Interestingly, despite their low cost and availability of millions of free mobile apps, only 31% of small businesses use the mobile phone for their operations, besides making calls
- Regardless, over 50% of the small-scale business managers testified their inability to live without the mobile phone
The infographic below illustrates how modern small businesses use wireless connection in their daily operations.
Whichever of these devices contemporary entrepreneurs prefer, their usage has been phenomenal in small-scale business operations. Importantly however, wireless connectivity has many applications for contemporary entrepreneurs, ranging from switching between several devices to increasing collaboration and mobility. Un-tethered network access is critical for modern small businesses for accessing documents, sharing files, sending and receiving emails, using cloud resources, and maintaining collaboration between peers, simultaneously. The list below identifies five competitive advantages justifying wireless connectivity for modern small businesses.
Competitive Advantages Wireless Connectivity for Small Businesses
1. Optimizing Peer Collaboration and Operational Mobility
- Helps peers collaborate even when roaming in and out of a business premises, without losing their connection
- Facilitates group/teamwork projects with optimal effectiveness
- Increases timeliness and real-time communication without jeopardizing mobility
- Centralizes operational documents for use, update and or maintenance
2. Boosting Information Access
- Wireless connection provides speedy/timely and reliable access to essential information when conducting business i.e. from a centralized database
- Improves operational processes for being real-time and multi-user enabled i.e. inventory management
- Wireless connection also overcomes the problem of network access in confined spaces or far-flung areas where wired connection is unfeasible i.e. in a warehouse
3. Enhancing Guest Access for Customers
- Modern entrepreneurs have also learned how to employ behavioral economics to optimize the customer experience when in their small businesses.
- Providing a secure and often free wireless access to guests gives the customers in a retail outlet, hotel, or restaurant a value-added customer service
- Guest access increases the time customers spend in a business setup, increases their freedom to communicate, and converts visitors to new customers
4. Improves Operational Responsiveness
- Several users can connect, use and update essential information in real-time
- Enables quick/prompt response to customers concerns, needs, requests and queries
- Improves customer service relations in retail or service delivery by enabling simultaneous operations
5. Feasibility of Cost-Effective Expansion
- Wireless connection anticipates business growth, and is thus flexible for expansion, i.e. expanding wireless LAN circle.
If new users/employees are added and or routine usage increased, expanding a wireless connection is easier, timely, and cheap (cost-effectiveness)
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.