A survey conducted by Really Simple Systems has revealed that many small and medium-sized businesses are embracing social media as a means of conducting business.
From a sample of 862 respondents —the majority from small and medium-sized organizations with less than 50 employees—62 percent report that they now use social networking in everyday business. The research also shows that 92 percent of those using it do so to keep in touch with existing customers, while 78 percent use it to find new customers.
Eighty-three percent of those who said they were using social media used LinkedIn, while 72 percent said they use Facebook, 65 percent use Twitter, 44 percent run a company blog, and only 3.5 percent use MySpace. A handful of others are using other forms of social media, such as YouTube, Yammer, Xing, Quora, and FourSquare.
"We all know that enterprise companies are rapidly adopting social media as a means of communicating with existing customers and prospects, but I was surprised to see that adoption among small businesses was so advanced," said John Paterson, CEO of Really Simple Systems. "Our survey shows that 80 percent of respondents agree that cloud systems require less internal IT-support. And with 63 percent stating that software-as-a-service solutions are made more attractive by the current financial climate, cloud solutions continue to be a major way for companies to dramatically reduce IT overheads, removing the burden of system maintenance for small organizations who would rather allocate that resource to developing the business."
The use of cloud-free CRM, cloud CRM, and Web-based CRM by small businesses has now overtaken on-premises CRM, with 45 percent of respondents now using hosted applications as opposed to 36 percent using in-house CRM.
"In two years, we have seen a split of 47/36 percent in favour of in-house become a 45/36 percent split the other way. CRM is now being delivered through the cloud to the majority of small businesses using such a system," Paterson said.
The survey also revealed that almost half of respondents feel as confident about the reliability, speed, data safety, and functionality of cloud applications as they do with in-house offerings.
Perhaps surprisingly, 40 percent of those questioned plan to spend more on IT in the next 12 months than they did in the past 12 months, and 38 percent will keep IT spending at the same level. "This is good news for the IT sector as the signs show the dark clouds of recession and austerity seem to slowly lifting," Paterson concluded. "It's not yet business as usual, as rising inflation should be factored into these results, but it looks like the IT sector is on the road to recovery, with cloud vendors set to benefit from increasing small business confidence in the economy."