Small Business Office Basics Still Matter

By Pedro Hernandez | Posted June 30, 2016

Today's entrepreneurs undeniably embrace the cloudand run their businesses on go-anywhere smartphones and tablets, at least in part. With the ability to trade documents across town (or the country) in the blink of an eye and send invoices from the breakfast table, the days of traditional office equipment are numbered, right?

[Related: Cloud Computing Helps Lift Small Business Valuations]

Not so fast. According to the 2016 Brother Business Surveyof U.S.-based small business owners, people still overwhelmingly rely on proven "office basics" like printers and copiers to get the job done.

The survey, conducted by Wakefield Research, found that whopping 91 percent of small business owners have a printer (84 percent), scanner (75 percent), copier (69 percent), or fax machine (57 percent) in their work space. And for many companies, the notion of the paperless office remains, well, just a notion.

Brother small business technology survey

Of the people who still cling to their printers and other old-school equipment, 43 percent use a printer 10 or more times per day on average. In fact, a majority of workers still trek to a physical office each day. Fifty-eight percent of the 509 small business owners (500 employees or less) and decision makers polled for the study said their daily tasks require that they show up to an office location.

In a prepared statement, John Wandishin, vice president of marketing for Brother's Business Machines Group, said the survey's "findings show small business owners still trust and rely on tried-and-true core business practices." But that's not to say that they're stuck in the past.

Don't Call Them Old-Fashioned

Although most of the respondents cling to their copiers and other paper-based equipment, luddites they are not.

Twenty-eight percent said they plan to spend most of their IT budgets on smartphones, tablets, and mobile devices that enable remote work. Twenty-one percent said they plan to devote the biggest portion of their IT budgets to cloud file syncing and sharing services.

Embracing the cloud can help organizations leap ahead of competitors that with aging business processes and dusty IT infrastructures.

"Technology helps businesses run faster and smarter," Brenda Hudson, vice president of inside sales at Insight Enterprises, a business technology solutions and services provider, recently told Small Business Computing. Integrating the cloud and other emerging technologies allows smaller organizations to "mitigate the risk of limited growth and to create an environment where technology is used as a competitive business advantage."

One only has to follow the money to find that small businesses are following suit. "Budget growth is usually a good gauge of the value companies put on a particular part of the business," said Hudson, referencing a recent small business IT study from her company. "The fact that 42 percent of small business respondents plan to see an increase over their 2015 IT budgets is certainly a positive indicator that companies are receiving the message that they can use technology to power and transform a business."

Best of Both Worlds

Brother's own study suggests that entrepreneurs are taking a best of both worlds approach, melding the productivity-enhancing benefits of cloud and mobile technologies with established practices to grow their businesses.

"Clearly these technology-minded entrepreneurs are pursuing and implementing the best available solutions to grow and succeed," continued Wandishin. "As a result, they are investing in reliability, cost-effectiveness, and quality. This demonstrates sound thinking and can make all the difference in their business success."

In addition to mobile devices and cloud services, small businesses are spending money on network and data security (30 percent). Fifteen percent of respondents are even dipping their toes into futuristic Internet of Things devices to monitor their environments, another sign that small business owners are growing adept at integrating new tech with their established work styles.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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