Social media, smartphones and tablets are top technology needs for SMBs, right? Well, actually, it would seem not. 

Yes, they are important, but not as important as desktops, landlines and laptops, according to Microsoft-sponsored Ipsos research. It shows that while small to medium size businesses (SMB) love technology, only 30 percent have adopted new kinds of technology, like cloud computing.

The comprehensive survey covers many of the IT buzz words making the rounds at the moment. To say it is an eye-opener would be an understatement. The study was carried out on behalf of Microsoft from April 29 to May 7 across 551 small business owners who were identified by Ipsos within a representative sample of 5,149 US adults over the age of 18.

SMB Technology Concerns

In all the media coverage of current computing trends, there is the bottom line assumption that just because new technologies are available, everyone is going to use them.

For SMBs, it seems, the opposite is the case. It's not because they are un interested, or because they won’t invest, but because some of the original concerns about these new technologies have not been addressed.

In this respect it is worth noting that the top three technology concerns of SMB owners were:

  • Costs to maintain or upgrade the business’s technology (35 percent)
  • Security (22 percent)
  • The ability to access content from multiple devices in any location (16 percent)

Keeping Up With IT

For vendors who are working in these areas, this represents a business opportunity that cannot be passed up given that 86 percent of SMB owners globally say that keeping up with technology trends is important to their business. This includes 50 percent who believe that's " very important" and another 36 percent who say it is " somewhat important."

But it is the kind of technologies that SMBs are rating that is really surprising. Asked to rate the importance of different technologies to their business, the results showed that "traditional" technologies are still tops. SMBs rated the following technologies in order of importance to them:

  • Laptop computers (68 percent)
  • Desktop computers (67 percent)
  • Smartphones (60 percent)
  • Landlines (52 percent)
  • Productivity applications (47 percent)
  • Tablets (34 percent)
  • Social media apps (34 percent)
  • Payment technologies (31 percent)

These basics figures suggest that the traditional PC market is far from dead and that companies like Dell, or HP, or even Microsoft, have a good case for sticking to their guns despite disastrous figures from independent research groups like Gartner.

They also show that social media is not as prevalent in SMBs as might be expected, although this may reflect slow adoption rather than resistance to the use of such tools.

SMB Working Patterns

The figures also threw up some other interesting factoids on the way people work, which has a significant impact on the kind of technology they are going to use.

According to the research, only one in five SMB owners say they, and their employees, never work remotely.

A further two in five say they work remotely between 5 and 30 percent of the time.