A survey of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) on their use of mobile devices conducted for business software vendor Sage North America shows that SMBs remain lukewarm when it comes to the adoption of Windows 8.

The survey was of U.S. SMB decision makers, but the figures should be largely comparable to the Canadian market, although adoption rates of new technology often lag in Canada, compared to the U.S.

According to the survey, when asked of their company’s approach to Windows 8, by device, just 20 per cent are either using Windows 8 today on their desktops, or plan to within the next six months. Another 19.8 per cent have rejected it, while 23.4 per cent are considering it and 36.7 per cent are undecided.

For laptops, the figures are similar, with 20 per cent using it or planning to use it shortly. Some 19.8 per cent have said no, while 25.3 per cent are considering Windows 8 and 34.7 per cent are undecided.

When it comes to smartphones and tablets, the rejection numbers for Windows 8 are higher, at 30.2 per cent for each. Around 45 per cent are undecided on Windows 8 for each form factor, while around 16 per cent are considering it and less than 10 per cent are using it today, or plan to soon.

The survey wasn’t Windows 8-focused, however. Among its other findings, when SMB employees are working remotely, 81 per cent use their laptops, 80 per cent use their smartphones and 57 per cent are using tablets. And remote devices are viewed positively by decision makers, with 85 per cent saying it has had a positive impact on employee productivity.

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The most common mobile applications used for business functions, contact organizers were the most popular, followed by scheduling tools and task management tools.

“For many businesses, the mobile device is an extension of the office,” said Joe Langner, executive vice-president of Sage North America, in a statement. “It affords workers the freedom to leave the office while maintaining the connectivity necessary to keep business objectives moving forward wherever they are. Mobility can support collaboration of internal teams by enabling seamless integration between the field and the office as well as eliminating potential bottlenecks between departments.”

It plays to the bring your own device (BYOD) trend, which has been gaining popularity, but also created security and device management issues for the IT team. The survey found that48 per cent of SMBs have a BYOD policy in place, while 31 per cent haven’t considered one and none per cent have decided against BYOD.

“Employees are looking to work beyond the ‘four walls.’ Take mobile salespeople, for example. They need as much data as possible to close a sale. They need to be able to access their catalog of items, create sales quotes, and even compare their sales number against their team’s performance and goals. With mobile business applications, they can do this anywhere; they’re no longer tethered to the office,” said Langner.

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