Mobile technology continues to revolutionise the way we live, with a big jump in the past 12 months in the number of Australians using technology to get online no matter where they are.
The number of consumers accessing the internet on their mobile phone has more than doubled in the past three years, from 26 per cent to 58 per cent.
The annual Sensis e-Business Report released today shows significant growth in the ownership of smartphones, tablet devices and wireless internet access among small businesses and consumers.
Report author, Christena Singh, said the results showed that Australians were increasingly relying on their ability to access the internet at all times.
"Internet access is now rarely just about logging on to a desktop computer," Ms Singh said. "Many consumers and businesses now rely on being able to access the internet 24/7 wherever they are," she said.
"We are revolutionising the way we look for information, and small businesses have the opportunity to use the internet and mobile devices to reach customers and grow their market."
The Sensis survey found that more than half of all Australians now own a smart phone. Smart phone ownership has jumped by a third in the past year, up from 44 to 59 per cent of the population. Smart phone ownership among small businesses is even higher, with almost two-thirds (63 per cent) now using such a device, up 17 percentage points on last year.
The most popular use of the internet on mobile phones is looking for maps and directions (69%) and looking up weather information (69%), followed by social networking (64%), and looking for information on products and services (62%).
Business owners are gradually getting more savvy about responding to an increasingly mobile online customer base.
While only 9 per cent of SMEs have mobile-specific websites, a further 21 per cent say they are planning on getting one in the coming year. There has also been a 10 per cent jump in the number of businesses loading location maps onto their website.
Interestingly, the most frequently nominated place that people use their mobile phones to access the internet is at home (56 per cent), despite many people also having access through computers or tablet devices. The statistic highlights that using a phone is a preference for many people, rather than a necessity.
The popularity of tablet devices has also more than doubled during the year, with 30 per cent of Australians saying they currently have one, up from 12 per cent last year. Another 16 per cent say they plan to get one in the next 12 months.
Small business is increasingly turning to tablet devices, with a 13 percentage point jump in ownership since last year. This has been reflected in slight drops in small business ownership of desktop computers (3 per cent drop), notebook computers (5 per cent drop) and satellite navigation devices (5 per cent drop).
There has also been strong growth in wireless broadband connection among small businesses, with an increase of 12 per cent over last year (to 37 per cent). Of those small businesses who don't have wireless, 22 per cent say they plan to get wireless broadband in the next 12 months.
"The rush to embrace mobile technology is backed up when you look at the way small businesses say they use the internet," Ms Singh said.
The top five reasons small business says they use the net are:
- To communicate via email (97%)
- Internet banking (91%)
- Looking for information about products or services (89%)
- Getting reference information or researching data (87%)
- Looking for suppliers of products or services (86%)
Teleworking (working outside the normal workplace aided by some form of technology) is also on the rise, with almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of employees reporting that they had used technology in the past year to help them work from a location other than their office. This is up from 56 per cent last year.
One in five Australians who teleworked reported doing so at a client's premises, and 13 per cent reported teleworking at cafes. The full report is available online at www.about.sensis.com.au.