NEW research suggests small and medium business owners (SMBs) lose around five hours a week - or 35 days a year - because they don't have the resources to 'work on the go'.
Microsoft Lumia conducted a survey of 400 Australian SMBs and recognised unproductive and inefficient time is a major obstacle to growth, while harnessing new technologies and remaining secure in a mobile led world are two of the biggest challenges for SMBs over the next 12 months.
Entrepreneur and business author Mark Pesce has teamed up with Microsoft Devices to analyse the research and identify solutions and says using technology, especially smart phones, can give SMBs an edge on competitors and help them to re-claim lost hours.
"SMEs are losing 35 days a year, or seven business weeks a year, in unproductive tasks and yet despite that, the screen time we are spending with our devices and particularly smartphones, is growing and growing - we can often only tear ourselves away from them when we are completely exhausted," he says.
"They have become the gateway to all of our relationships and we use them to share our experiences - that can be as simple as calling a friend and talking about a footy match or it can be as important as listening to a customer who may have a problem.
"The smartphone adds another level to that sharing relationship because with a smartphone you can share almost anything - you can share every video, every document, every schedule, every piece of information."
While the research suggests close to half of small business owners believe that they can increase collaboration in their businesses, only a third of those people see technology as being key to that.
Pesce says the gap highlights that businesses need to learn how to master the power that is actually in their hands.
"It is now time to have a deep think about how employees can share with one another; what do they need to share, how do they share it and how can the smartphone bring that sharing to wherever they go," he says.
"Employees can connect, they can share their work, they can collaborate, they can get more done more quickly and with less effort than they could before workflow starts to become seamless.
"A business that learns to collaborate is going to work more productively, it is going to be more responsive to its customers and it is going to be more aware of its competitors."
Steve Lewis, director of Microsoft mobile devices (Australia and New Zealand) says it is not enough to identify problems affecting SMBs.
"We need to work together to find solutions that overcome the challenges and technology can play a key part in this, especially when it comes to boosting productivity, acting on inspiration and driving growth," says Lewis.
The latest Lumia 640 and 640 XL have been designed with the business community in mind, for example, OneDrive on Lumia syncs across tablets and PCs so users can start on one and pick up on the other.
Other findings of the research includes 42 per cent of small business owners have concerns about the security of their company data while one in three business owners have woken up with a brilliant idea for work but not recorded or acted upon it.
The research coincides with the launch of Microsoft Lumia's Power of Do campaign which is designed to help Australian SMBs overcome challenges.
A key element of the Power of Do campaign is The Do Squad - a band of specialists who will work with a number of SMBs to help them reduce costs, improve efficiency and build stronger customer relations through Lumia and Microsoft tools.
Castlecrag Meats, a butcher in Sydney, was one of the first businesses to benefit from the campaign.
Phill Mitchell, owner and operator of the butcher says starting at 5:30am with a full day and paperwork on top meant he didn't get to spend a lot of daylight hours with his family.
"Now we are using the Lumia 640 to update shopping lists, action lists and messages through OneNote, we are invoicing on a Surface Pro 3 and saving all our work to OneDrive which is saving us hours of time," says Mitchell."The technology is really simple to use and it means I get home earlier, investing the free time back into the family and the business."
Get our daily business news
Sign up to our free email news updates.
Help us deliver quality journalism to you.
As a free and independent news site providing daily updates
during a period of unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere
we call on your support