Survey: SMBs Know They Need Tech but Struggle to Make Right Choices

Software reviews portal Capterra recently sponsored a survey of 715 small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to determine their attitudes toward technology investment and adoption. The survey, which included small and larger SMBs, showed that most are aware of the importance of new technology but many hesitate to invest, in part because of a fear of making the wrong choice.

In a very “noisy” market with lots of competitors, this can lead to a kind of paralysis.

The survey, conducted by Gartner, looked at attitudes toward data security, conversational interfaces, AI, digital marketing, IoT and several other technology tools and topics. It asked how critical the technology was and whether it had been adopted. The findings varied somewhat by industry vertical. For example, two-thirds of respondents in the construction industry said they “don’t believe that digital marketing is critical for them to do business.”

The survey found that identifying the right technology is one of the top challenges for these respondents. Roughly 20% said it was their main challenge. Nearly half (47%) said that technology investment was part of their strategic planning.

Capterra SMB tech survey

However, most of these SMB respondents were slow to adopt the newest technologies. For example, chatbots and AI were being used by a minority of these businesses:

Less than 30% of small businesses in vertical segments such as Retail, Services, Construction and Manufacturing are incorporating chatbots. Banking and Financial Services leads in chatbot adoption with 35% of SMB leaders indicating they are deploying chatbots.”

Capterra’s survey found that fewer than one in five small business leaders use AI, yet many more acknowledge that it’s critical for their businesses.

That was true almost across the board with the various technologies examined. Tools associated with data and information security were viewed as the most critical and were the most widely adopted.

Capterra SMB tech survey

LSA’s own Tech Adoption index systematically tracks digital marketing and technology adoption among SMBs across both verticals and functional areas. Wave III was just released. And what we’ve found is a steady and general march toward new technology and cloud-services adoption but it’s uneven. Those that have declined to adopt new technologies have said it’s chiefly because they’re comfortable with current tools and operations.

What the Capterra survey shows is the gap between an intellectual recognition in most of these companies that new tools are needed to be competitive and sustainable but the challenges of adoption and execution in a market rife with hard-to-penetrate competitors and claims.

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