Last week, Microsoft Lumia revealed new independent research showing that Australian small and medium business (SMBs) owners lose around five hours a week because they cannot progress work due to travel or being away from their workplace. Equating to around 35 working days a year, being unable to ‘work on the go’ is one of the key obstacles to growth faced by SMBs across the country.
The independent research, conducted on behalf of Microsoft Lumia, surveyed 400 Australian SMBs from a variety of sectors and identified unproductive time, being able to harness technology and remaining secure in a mobile led world as the biggest challenges over the next 12 months.
Steve Lewis, Director, Mobile Devices, Australia & New Zealand commented: “While we know that productivity is a key issue for all businesses, the research clearly shows that Australian SMBs are looking for ways to maximise their time and innovate in the new world of work. One of the most compelling findings was that SMBs recognise that technology plays a key role in growing their business and being able to reclaim their unproductive time.”
Key findings from the research included:
1. Unproductive and inefficient time is a major obstacle to growth
- Australian small business owners lose around 5 hours a week of unproductive time. This equates to 250 hours a year or around 35 working days
· Not having to waste time on day to day admin (27%) and better insight on competitors (26%) are the key ways that small business owners say they could accelerate businesses growth
2. Security remains a concern for SMBs
· The research showed that 42% of small business owners have concerns about the security of their company data
· The biggest concerns are the threat of fire and not having back up data (18%) and carrying around a lot of work details on a mobile device (17%)
3. Technology is key to collaboration and innovation
· 46% of small business owners believe they can increase collaboration and innovation in their business with the majority (39%) believing technology is the key
· Technology can also have a significant role in the growth of small business with 32% saying that being able to act on inspiration for new business anytime and anywhere or using technology to reclaim the unproductive time are key benefits
· The technological solutions that would most help small business improve productivity are having one operating system that is consistent and updates across all devices (23%), being able to connect with customers while on the go (20%) and being able to act on business inspirations outside of work or when travelling (15%)
4. Inspiration doesn’t just happen 9 to 5
- One in three small business owners (31%) have woken up with a brilliant idea for work but not recorded it or acted upon it
- A fifth of small business owners (21%) have inspiration outside working hours which they can’t act upon and (17%) are not able to get work done while they travel
To support Australian SMBs with these challenges, Microsoft Devices worked with futurist, business author and technologist Mark Pesce to help analyse the research and identify solutions.
Mark Pesce commented: “This year’s Federal budget announcement on SMB tax breaks for mobile computing devices provides SMBs with a great opportunity to support business growth and productivity in a working environment that isn’t constrained by location or time of day. The research revealed unproductive travel hours as a huge burden on SMB growth. Using technology, like Lumia smartphones, within a flexible working culture, SMBs can get an edge on competitors, and re-claim precious hours.”
Steve Lewis added: “It’s not enough to identify the problems affecting SMBs we need to work together to find solutions that overcome the challenges and technology can play a key part in this, especially when it comes to boosting productivity, acting on inspiration and driving growth.
“Our latest Lumia 640 and 640 XL smartphones have been designed to increase productivity without breaking the bank. For example, OneDrive on a Lumia 640XL will synch seamlessly across tablets and PCs so users can start on one device and pick up on any other. These devices also easily switch between work and play, helping people achieve more at home, at work or on the go.’’
Castlecrag Meats, a renowned butcher on the North Shore, Sydney was one of the first small businesses to benefit from a new Microsoft Lumia campaign – The Power of Do - designed to help Australian SMBs overcome challenges.
Phill Mitchell, owner and operator of Castlecrag Meats commented: “Starting at 5:30 am with a full day and paperwork on top meant I didn’t get to see the family during daylight hours, which was hard. Now we’re using the Lumia 640 to update shopping lists, action lists and messages through OneNote, we’re invoicing on a Surface Pro 3 and saving all our work to OneDrive which is saving us hours of time. The technology is really simple to use and it means I get home earlier, investing the free time back into the family and the business.”
A key element of the ‘Power of Do’ campaign is ‘The Do Squad’, a band of specialists who will work with a number of Australian SMBs, to help reduce costs, improve efficiency and build stronger customer relations through Lumia and Microsoft tools.
There is no charge or fee for the service and businesses can apply for the help of the ‘Do Squad’ by heading to the website: www.microsoft.com/mobile/powerofdo. Applicants will be asked to outline why they need the help of ‘The Do Squad’ with Microsoft Lumia judges determining the best entrants, two of which will receive a consultation and technology support package worth up to $AUD 7,000. The initiative is open to Australian businesses and there are also 25 secondary packages available, where businesses will win a direct mail pack containing a Lumia 640 mobile phone handset valued at $299 RRP and a Lumia 640XL mobile phone handsets valued at $399 RRP.
Mark Pesce’s top tips for boosting productivity are:
1. Spend five minutes prepping activities you can do on your commute – whether this is ticking off laborious but essential admin tasks, scheduling meetings for the day or reviewing a PowerPoint presentation
2. Always keep a 'shopping or to do list' in OneNote - so you'll know what you need when you're out without having to look for it. Whether that's picking something for the office or doing an essential bank run
3. Put some work into the apps on your home screen - spend some time arranging those apps or Live Tiles. Do this well and you can learn a lot just by glancing at your smartphone
4. Use voice recorded note taking to get down inspiration points instantly, you never know when that Eureka moment will strike
5. Balance audio and visual communication to boost productivity: if you’re having a brainstorm or connecting with prospects, clients or potential employees, video calls via Skype can be a much more efficient way to progress