In case you haven’t figured this out, we love data. So we are always on the lookout for data we think can help you map out your strategy. We recently found a new pile of data that affirms much of what we’ve learned from the ongoing Localogy Modern Commerce Monitor (MCM) study about how and why small businesses adopt SaaS technology.
It is always good to see a household brand invest in a small business survey. In this case, the brand is Verizon. And the research we’re speaking of is the Verizon-MorningConsult small business survey. This is the third wave of research. As with Wave 2, this research was completed during August. And like last year the survey sample included some 600 business owners.
The 42-page report is filled with meaty nuggets. This post focuses on what we think are the most interesting findings in the latest wave.
There’s a reasonable sense of optimism among business owners. At least there was as of August. Almost 70% of owners believe their business will be better off a year from now. And a slight majority say their business is “much better or somewhat better off” today than it was a year ago (August 2020). These are indeed encouraging results.
Some 63% of business owners are turning to technology to improve their customer experiences and to address new opportunities. That compares to just over half (53%) who said the same a year ago. Interestingly, 20% have hired a new employee from outside of their immediate location, i.e. remote workers. And 30% have implemented new systems and technologies to help address the enduring labor shortage.
One of the key data points in the survey speaks to the evolving future work model. Almost 75% of respondents say that offering flexible work schedules is important for attracting and retaining employees. The other two employee benefits that drew the same level of importance were health care benefits and paid leave.
Flexible Work Drives Need for Tech
The notion that providing flexible schedules is now virtually a must in our minds should drive further adoption of technology tools. Why? Because there will be challenges with the flexibility model. And one way to ensure customer engagement is to adopting smart technology. This means using chat, texting, and email to stay on top of customer inquiries. Interestingly, three benefits that scored under 50% were related to offing stipends for technology, e.g. phone, Internet, etc. This also makes sense since so much of our “work at home” technology is indistinguishable from our “living life” technology.
Finally, we point to the notion of one of the consequences of more flexible working models and the progression of work-at-home options. Along with those come new challenges associated with cyber security and cyber bandwidth. About 72% of respondents indicated that they are aware of the work at home model has put their cyber security more at risk. At the same time, 76% are confident that they have the necessary protections to prevent any significant cyber threat.
While we applaud the confidence of that 76% of owners, we are much less confident they actually have the know-how and have put in place the necessary cyber security practices. All it will take is a single incident of a customer database being hacked before they’ll awaken to the massive security gaps that exist among most small businesses.
We suggest you check out the data that Verizon has assembled. As we said, we think there’s some very interesting stuff in there. Now, we wonder, can Verizon make use of the data to define its own roadmap for offering more solutions to small business owners? Or will it simply pay lip service to the opportunity?