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The Mobility Paradox: Is Mobility Driving SMBs, Or Is It The Other Way Around?

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Toshiba’s Neil Bramley explains what big business can learn from SMBs mobility

Mobility has experienced a meteoric rise within the business sphere over the past few years, and continues to grow at a rapid rate. Companies are realising that being mobile leads to strong business traits. A mobile firm is equally flexible, adaptable, and always-on – all of which can help to level the playing field and stimulate faster growth.

According to recent research, the top 25 percent of SMBs are seeing double the revenue growth as a direct result of their eager adoption of mobile technologies.Clear proof mobility is the way forward. But are these early-adopting SMBs responsible for driving mobility within business and inspiring further advancement of mobile technologies, or are they being driven by a need to keep pace with competitors?

There are more than 20 million SMBs across Europe, forming the backbone of the economy. There is clearly scope for technology vendors to learn from them, gaining an insight into a microcosm of the market which in turn allows smarter investment in research, innovation and ultimately mobile product development.

SMBs: the early-adopters

Neil Bramley, European SMB Director at ToshibaSmall businesses tell us they are often in the best position to embrace new technologies and ways of working, especially compared to some larger rivals. While a multinational enterprise might boast a sizeable IT budget, long-standing and far-reaching protocols can act as a barrier to embracing technology quickly.

SMBs are by nature more agile. With no strict protocols in place to restrict or delay implementation, they are free to move quickly and adopt technologies safe in the knowledge they can spend within their limits and easily scale upwards as and when they grow. And such purchasing confidence is now also available with hardware, with some vendors offering flexible financing options including leasing and generous satisfaction guarantees on business-built devices.

Devices such as Toshiba’s Portégé Z20t can work hand-in-hand with business cloud platforms, while also featuring the connectivity options to link-up securely and reliably to other technology regardless of location. Such products are specifically designed to allow SMB workers to function safely and at maximum productivity whether at home or on the train – helping them to keep their competitive edge.

Office of the future

With customer acquisition and retention so important in today’s competitive marketplace, SMBs have been quick to realise the value of mobile IT, whether it’s through ultra-portable equipment or tailored cloud applications built to help specific roles perform more productively. It is often those front-footed SMBs who are creating innovative mobile apps in order to meet a niche business need – further evidence of how SMBs are integral to the advancement of mobile IT. Similarly, mobile technology is becoming crucial to eliminating dead-time, enabling SMBs to make use of every minute. For example, an independent estate agent can respond to incoming enquiries while they wait for an appointment, ensuring they serve as that single-point of contact which is increasingly valued by customers.

It is clear mobility is helping SMBs to compete with rivals, allowing them to make their office wherever they are. Modern technology is of course benefitting all businesses, but it plays perfectly into the ways in which SMBs operate in particular, enabling them to reduce costs elsewhere and focus investment where it is most needed.

With the mobile device market growing in terms of numbers and diversity – research predicts global annual shipments of wearables will hit 148 million by 2019, up from 33 million this year[3] – the quick adoption of such innovations will only become more important in terms of achieving success. Whether SMBs are the chicken or the egg, this cycle is central to fuelling the mobility movement.

Neil Bramley is European SMB director at Toshiba

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