Mobility tops business technology focus in 2012-13: Sage

Also claims Cloud is still an enigma and female business owners are at the forefront of social networking technology

Mobile technology and computer hardware will be the core investment priorities for businesses in the next 12 to 14 months, according to software vendor, Sage.

More than half of all businesses (53 per cent) stated say they will invest in mobile technology, with investment in computer hardware following as the second most popular priority at 52 per cent.

The company reported the findings in its Sage Business Index Report 2012, a market research program that interviewed 503 business owners and decision makers across Australia. Market research company, the Insight Room, conducted the survey.

“During these uncertain economic times, mobility offers a way of increasing business productivity and potentially driving down the costs of conducting business, with the added benefit of enabling flexibility for employees,” Sage Software Australia managing director, Alan Osrin, said.

The study found that Cloud computing still remains an enigma to businesses, with only 53 per cent having heard of the IT term ‘Cloud’ prior to the survey. However, with the concept explained, 48 per cent of the respondents stated to be interested in utilising the Cloud in their operations.

According to Sage, the main barriers to adoption of Cloud computing include: limited perceived benefits, confusion about the potential savings or benefits, uncertainty as to how to implement a Cloud solution and a belief that their business is unable to make use of the Cloud.

The survey showed that Cloud penetration is currently limited – with only one in 12 businesses using public Cloud for their business software and one in 16 using the private Cloud. On the other hand, though penetration is low, its uptake is increasing with 57 per cent of them implementing the private Cloud and 76 per cent deploying the private Cloud in the past 12 months.

“The Cloud as sitting in the ‘important but not urgent’ box, given the multitude of other challenges they are currently facing. As long as clear education and a roadmap highlighting its risks, benefits and opportunities are provided, there is potential,” Osrin said.

The study also showed that social networking is still in its infancy, but is seen as credible business channel going forward.

54 per cent of the respondents agreed that users of Facebook and Twitter in engaging customers in the next few years will be more successful as compared to those that do not. But, 51 per cent mentioned that they did not know how to use it effectively in promoting their business.

Females were the bigger advocates of social media, with 76 per cent of them fully comprehending its use versus a 49 per cent total.

The group was two times more likely to have a Facebook business page and 2.5 times more likely to have a Twitter business page in comparison to men.

However, the study found that the priorities were selected only on the basis that companies had more budgets set aside for new technologies.

It found that looming economic conditions are causing companies to defer key business decisions, with 36 per cent of all respondents deciding to put off upgrading machinery, 19 per cent suspending IT software spend, 19 per cent rescheduling IT hardware spend and 18 per cent adjourning their Web/online presence.

More investments will be made in marketing and sales instead, at the expense of Web presence and technology. Marketing and sales saw an increase in priority by nine per cent and eight per cent since last year but, focus on Web presence and technology fell by seven per cent and nine per cent respectively.

“Rising cost is the major challenge and has been increasing – from 47 per cent last year to 67 per cent this year. This is because as competitiveness tightens and growth slows, businesses are looking for more urgent and direct ways to grow sales,” The Insight Room co-founder and director, Ben Taylor, said.