Technology for Small Businesses: What Your Peers Are Using

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As a small or midsize business (SMB) owner, it can be hard to keep track of the latest essential business technology. Are your competitors farther ahead than you on must-have or emerging software?

Header image showing a man standing next to project management icon illustrations

We’re here to help. In June 2019, Capterra surveyed more than 500 business leaders in the U.S. involved in purchasing technologies for their organization to learn about what technology they are using, planning to use, or see as critical for their business. The survey asked about 19 different technologies within the SMB space (read more about our methodology here).

The results provide an in-depth look at the current SMB technology landscape. Use these results to identify which software you should invest in now, and which technologies you should keep your eye on.

Technology small businesses use today

There are several technologies with wide adoption among SMBs today, including accounting, data security, HR, CRM, and project management.

About three-quarters or more respondents use finance and accounting software (80%) or data and information security (75%) technology. Besides their integral nature for any business (more on that below), part of the reason these technology categories have such wide adoption is that they encompass many related technologies.

Finance/accounting software, for example, can include financial reporting, financial risk management, fraud detection, accounting, accounts payable, accounts receivable, billing and invoicing, budgeting, and expense reporting.

Likewise, data and information security software can include data management, data governance, data loss prevention, master data management (MDM), GDPR compliance, cybersecurity, computer security, and network security.

Majorities of respondents also currently use HR software, cloud computing, customer relationship management (CRM), project management, or digital marketing software (each roughly 60% or more).

Nearly half of SMBs currently use application integration technology, mobile business applications, or business intelligence and analytics.

What does this mean for your business? Technologies to help handle accounting, finances, data security, and human resources are an essential part of any SMB’s software stack. If you don’t already have these technologies in your organization, visit Capterra’s software directories to read reviews, compare solutions, and find the best options for you.

Take a look at the chart below for more details on the top 10 most frequently cited technologies that SMBs are already using.

bar chart of the technologies SMBs are currently using

Critical technology for small businesses

Are the technologies with the highest adoption among SMBs also those seen as most critical? In the case of finance/accounting and data and information security, the answer is yes.

Finance/accounting and data and information security—the two most popular technologies among respondents by usage—also come in on top for being critical to business.

Nearly seven in ten (67%) small and midsize businesses who are using, planning to use, or evaluating finance/accounting technology say it is critical for their business. This should come as no surprise, as managing finances is a crucial task for any business and finance/accounting can help centralize financial data, automate bookkeeping, and keep track of financial health.

Likewise, 63% say data and information security is critical for their business. Not only is information security essential in a time with growing concern around data breaches, data privacy and control is becoming legally mandatory for those who need to be GDPR- and CCPR-compliant.

About half of SMBs who are using, planning to use, or evaluating project management or CRM technology see them as critical (52% each).

Several other popular software options, while not overwhelmingly seen as critical, are still considered beneficial to business. Majorities said that mobile business applications, application integration, cloud computing, or business intelligence technologies are beneficial to their SMB.

What does this mean for your business? In addition to the top solutions currently used by SMBs (finance/accounting, data and information security, and human resources), consider project management and CRM software. Both of these are widely used and seen as critical for business. Check out our top 20 reports for great project management and CRM software options.

Take a look at the chart below for the top 10 technologies seen as most critical for business by SMBs.Use this list to prioritize investments in new technology.

Bar chart of the technologies SMB leaders say are critical for business

Technology small businesses are planning for

What new technologies are small businesses keeping their eye on for 2020?

We asked small and midsize businesses what technology they are planning to use in the next one to two years or what they’re currently evaluating for potential future use.

Business intelligence, mobile business applications, and application integration technology are among the most popular technologies under evaluation or planned for use in the near future.

When it comes to less widely adopted tech, artificial intelligence/machine learning is one of the technologies small businesses are most interested in. Despite only 16% currently using such technology, 25% are planning to use this tech in the next year or two and 27% evaluating it for potential future use.

Small businesses also expressed interest in conversational user interfaces (25% planning to use), blockchain (23%), virtual or augmented reality (22%), 3D printing (21%), the internet of things (20%), and wearables (20%).

What does this mean for your business? Compare your company’s plans to what your peers are planning to use and begin evaluating emerging technology that could be a fit for your business. Start discussions with key stakeholders at your organization to see if these technologies are something you’d want to adopt in the next one to two years or whether they’re something you’ll keep an eye on for later.

Take a look at the chart below to see the top 10 technologies SMBs are planning to use in the next couple of years or are evaluating for future use.

A bar chart showing the top 10 most frequently cited technologies that small and midsize businesses are planning to use or evaluating for future use.


Learn more about emerging technology with these resources

As many of the emerging technologies covered here are niche, they won’t be a fit for every business. Visit Capterra’s blog and software directories to explore more software categories, read user reviews, and find resources on how these and other technologies could benefit your organization.

Here are some articles to get you started:

Blockchain:

3D Printing:

Conversational User Interface:

Wearables:

Virtual Reality

Multiple technologies (Includes AI and machine learning, Internet of Things, wearables, conversational UI, and 3D printing):

And if you’re interested in any of the must-have and emerging software featured in this article, visit any of the links below to learn more. Capterra’s directories feature top products, reviews, and buyers guides to help you make the right decision for your business.

Technology SMBs are using now:

Technology SMBs are planning for:


Information on Capterra’s 2019 Top Technology Trends survey

Capterra conducted this survey from June-August 2019 among 539 U.S.-based small- and midsize-business leaders. Companies were screened by size for those with 2-249 employees and enterprise-wide annual revenue of less than $100 million. The qualified respondents were required to be involved in purchasing technologies for the organization and to hold a position of manager or above in the company.

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About the Author

Kristen Bialik

Kristen Bialik

Kristen Bialik is a senior specialist analyst covering customer experience for Capterra. She holds B.A.'s in English and Communications from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in Journalism Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Follow her at @kebialik for insight on CX for small and midsize businesses.

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