Crowd Views III: Small Business, Big Software

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G2 Crowd is releasing its third quarterly research report: Crowd Views. The first two focused on “Solving the Talent Crisis” and “Solving Common Enterprise Problems.” This edition is about small business and the technology they use to solve their problems. The goal of this edition of Crowd Views is to help other small businesses understand what their peers are using to solve business problems. This is the third blog in our 10-part series about these small-business insights.

Software is an investment. Much like any employee, software needs to be good at its designated job and pull its weight. The upside is that software won’t microwave fish in the break room or finish the last of the coffee without making a new pot. The downside, however, is that software cannot function on its own, and it’s up to users to choose the right tool for themselves.

Like any major business decision, choosing software can be nerve-wracking. And there’s certainly no shortage to choose from: G2 Crowd alone features more than 20,000 software products on our site, and that’s by no means an exhaustive list.

According to Crowd Views III, Figure 10, 20 percent of companies hoping to grow in 2016 invested primarily in software and IT solutions. This year, however, that number has dropped to 11 percent. While this may seem like a negative change, I think it’s actually a positive one. If fewer businesses are planning to invest in IT, it means that they’ve found solutions that worked for them and no longer need to invest.

Of the small businesses we surveyed to determine what kind of software solutions they have deployed or are looking to deploy, about half already have payroll software, email marketing software and/or accounting software. And if they do not already have these platforms, the most popular platforms they are hoping to deploy are accounting, HR and recruiting and/or email marketing software (which accounts for about a third of respondents) (Crowd Views Figure 25).

These are all logical answers, since every business is primarily concerned with its finances and reaching more customers. Likewise, it makes complete sense that companies looking to expand their headcounts would want HR and recruiting software.

However, while we can infer why companies have or want to deploy certain kinds of software, we have much less insight into why companies are looking to replace their existing solutions. According to our data from Crowd Views, we know that the products that are most likely to be replaced (around 18 percent of respondents each) are accounting, CRM and payroll software. What we don’t know is why.

Because there are so many reasons a business could be looking to replace its software, I decided to look at some of our data for the CRM and CRM All-in-One categories, which are two categories that have at least 1,000 reviews each. Since this edition of Crowd Views focuses on small businesses, I also wanted to take a look at whether or not it was possible for a small business to utilize software intended for enterprise-level businesses.

Not only is CRM one of the platforms most likely to be replaced, but it also has two categories: standalone CRM, which is intended for enterprises, and CRM All-in-One, which houses multiple functions so small businesses don’t need to buy multiple platforms. While companies of any size can use either tool, there are certainly advantages to using the one best suited for your business.

CRM reviews by business size on as of August 29, 2017.

CRM reviews by business size on as of August 29, 2017.

As you can see above, small businesses make up most of both CRM and CRM All-in-One’s users. However, for CRM All-in-One, 79% of users work for small businesses, which is significantly higher than the percentage using CRM. Of course, you will note that there are thousands more CRM users than CRM All-in-One users, but it is interesting how many small businesses are using both (5,409 users out of a total of 10,016 as of August 29, 2017).

Looking at the usability scores from small businesses for the top five products in each category provides even more insight.

Average satisfaction scores for five highest-rated CRM products by small-business users.

Average satisfaction scores for five highest-rated CRM-all-in-one products by small-business users.

Above we see that CRM All-in-One software has consistently higher usability scores than CRM software (which, again, is intended for enterprises). What sticks out the most are the ease of setup, quality of support and meets requirements scores. (Note that Salesforce, the CRM juggernaut, still “meets requirements” despite the comparatively lower scores in other fields.)

While this provides no concrete data as to why small businesses may be replacing their software, we can infer that some issues stem from difficulty with setting up the product and the quality of support once the product is in use. Along those lines, if the users are having difficulty with the software, they probably won’t use it. If they aren’t using the software, you end up back where you started before purchasing the tool.

These are both completely legitimate concerns. If setting up a platform is difficult and support is not helping, using the platform will be that much more difficult.

Again, purchasing software is difficult. There are dozens of unforeseen issues that could crop up, and there’s only so much information available. However, software can greatly improve how a business runs, so the risks are worth it. If you’re a business owner looking to grow your business, the best you can do is arm yourself with information.


Click here to download Crowd Views: Small Business report in full for free.