We have a mixed bag of news for SMBs with conflicting views on whether social media is good or bad for business. There was a lot of other research published this week giving a considerable amount to think about for companies in, or thinking about entering the tech fray.

Social Media is good for Business?

American SMBs are turning to social media in an effort to boost their customer base, according to the recently released, Small Business Success Index.

Sponsored by Network Solutions and the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business, the report shows that over the past year alone social media adoption by small businesses has doubled from 12% to 24%.

The research showed that nearly one out of five small business owners is actively using social media in their business with many of them investing in social media applications, including blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

The biggest expectation small business owners have from social media is expanding external marketing and engagement with 61% of the respondents indicating that they use social media to identify and attract new customers.

Amongst the findings:

  • 75% surveyed have a company page on a social networking site
  • 61% use social media for identifying and attracting new customers
  • 57% have built a network through a site like LinkedIn
  • 45% expect social media to be profitable in the next twelve months
  • 72% have found ways to operate more efficiently

However, it also showed that there were still some concerns about using social media with:

  • 50% saying it takes more time than expected
  • 17% saying it gives people a chance to criticize their business in a public forum

Only 6% felt that social media use has hurt the image of the business more than helped it.

Download a copy of the Small Business Success Index and also find out how your business scores on the six key dimensions of small business success from the growsmartbusiness.com website.

Social Media Is Bad For Business?

The flip side of the Small Business Success Index is the report from Webroot, which was also published this week showing that IT managers in small and medium-sized organizations believe malware spread through social networks, Web 2.0 applications and other Web-based vectors will pose the most serious risk to information security in 2010.

The data is part of a new survey of 803 IT professionals in companies with 100 to 5,000 employees in the United States, the UK and Australia.

The vast majority of respondents (80%) say Web 2.0-based malware will be a problem in 2010. In fact, seven out of 10 (73%) said Web-based threats are more difficult to manage than email-based threats. Survey respondents also identified data security and confidentiality, data loss prevention and securing mobile and laptop users as the top three priorities for Web security in 2010.

Webroot commissioned the survey to identify the threats security professionals most anticipate in 2010, the weakest links in Web security and how companies are addressing these issues.

Key findings include the fact that nearly one quarter of those surveyed believe their company is very or extremely vulnerable to threats from:

  • Microsoft operating system vulnerabilities (25%)
  • Unpatched client-side software (24%)
  • Browser vulnerabilities (24%)
  • Web 2.0 applications (23%)

The majority (73%) of respondents agree that managing Web-based threats is more challenging than managing email-based threats.

And while many believe they are under threat, many others have already been compromised. These included:

  • 23% compromised by employees who accessed personal Webmail accounts
  • 24% used social networking sites
  • 25% used P2P networking
  • 32% downloaded media

If you’re interested in more check it out on the Webroot blog.
 

SMBs Maintaining Not Upgrading Software

SMBs are spending more than half their budgets on maintaining existing software than they are on new or upgraded software, according to the latest Forrester's Enterprise And SMB Software Survey.

The survey of nearly 2,200 IT executives and technology decision-makers at enterprise and small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) in North America and Europe is part of Forrester's Business Data Services (BDS) series, which helps Vendor Strategy professionals profile their target market's budget allocation and technology adoption.

The survey shows that the poor economic environment has created a backlog of business application software upgrade activities for firms, and many plan to address the issue this year.

Amongst the areas companies will be spending on are:

  • 21 percent of SMBs plan to upgrade existing finance and accounting software,
  • 19 percent of SMBs plan to upgrade their customer relationship management (CRM) applications,
  • 18 percent of SMBs plan to upgrade industry-specific software.

In addition, more than 20 percent of all SMBs have concrete plans to implement CRM or information and knowledge management (I&KM) software in 2010 or later, representing the fastest-growing SMB software markets in 2010.

While cloud computing has many enterprises interested, growth of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications is driving the market more, and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is still slow, the report also shows.

More information about Forrester's Business Data Services is available at the Forrester website.

UK SMBs Save By Not Using WiFi

Instead of relying on Wi-Fi hotspots, small enterprises’ employees should use mobile broadband USB sticks and datacards when traveling to save their businesses an average of UK£ 2145 (US$ 3368) each year depending on the number of employees on the road, according to research by UK telecoms, technology and media consultancy Analysys Mason.

Entitled Small Enterprises Save Money With Mobile broadband, published ahead of Mobile World Congress 2010 just finishing in Barcelona, it shows that each employee who travels throughout the year can accumulate Wi-Fi hotspot charges of up to UK£ 700 (US$ 1099).

All in all, the quality of service, simplicity and performance of mobile broadband in the UK is very good. SMEs can choose highly competitive offerings, with or without contracts from different providers.

This short report is part of Analysys Mason’s Research Enterprise program on the global enterprise and SME sectors.

If you’re interested in more, details of the report can be found on the website.