A series of studies over the past several months shows SMBs going increasingly more mobile, with tablet PCs being red hot and tablet use among SMBs skyrocketing. The uptake of mobile devices is driving a movement to the cloud and cloud-based applications.

The most recent study, by Fonality, projects that tablet use among SMBs will rise 77% over the next 18 months, from 43% to 76%. The study predicts that the rise in tablet use will come at the expense of smartphones, which it says are currently used by 94% of SMBs and will drop by 6% to 88% use in the next 18 months, while traditional cell phones will experience the most dramatic decline, dropping 30% from 63% to 44%.

Fonality found that 75% of respondents said the biggest reason for going mobile was to enable employees to work wherever the job demanded. One-half of SMB employees are mobile at least some of the time, the results showed, with those employees working outside the office nearly half their workdays, resulting in one-quarter of the average SMB’s staff working outside the office at any given time.

Fonality’s findings jibe with those of RingCentral, Portfolio.com, Techaisle, AMI-Partners, and others. RingCcentral found that 51% of SMB professionals would rather take their tablet with them when traveling than a laptop or PC, with the primary use being checking emails, visiting websites, and reviewing presentations.  A study by Techaisle found that 8.87 million tablets were used regularly inside SMBs, with the iPad being the overwhelming favorite, especially among small businesses, where Techaisle found 84% of small businesses using iPads vs. Androids.

AMI-Partners, meanwhile, reported that about 3.5 million U.S. SMBs were currently using smart phones and 700,000 using tablet PCs, and that over the next 12 months the number of SMBs owning these devices would increase by 40% and 85%, respectively. With the popularity of Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and similar Android devices fueling this surge in adoption, AMI-Partners projected that mobile device use would in turn drive demand for more specialized business-focused apps, particularly cloud-based mobile apps.

Fonality’s research also found SMBs moving to the cloud, with 43% of respondents who say they plan to deploy mobile solutions indicating they will do so in a cloud-based or hosted setup.

The SaaS apps that SMBs are embracing offer real value and are the types of online solutions that are represented here on Comparz. Using our guides and reviews can help you in your selection process.