While 98 percent of small businesses claim to protect their app users' data, just 41 percent require a strong password to protect that data, and only 40 percent encrypt the data or implement two-factor authentication, a recent Clutch survey of 529 U.S. small businesses found.
Just 37 percent of small businesses use a dedicated server to store user data, and only one third limit employee access to that data.
Still, an app can make a significant difference for a small business. The most popular features of small business apps include social media integration (44 percent), shopping (42 percent), communication and messaging (40 percent), and discounts and loyalty rewards (35 percent).
"Even though social sharing may not generate revenue for small businesses, it allows for organic app promotion by loyal app users," the report states, noting that social media integration can also reduce the time required to log in or create an account.
Less than half (42 percent) of small businesses offer personalized experiences for their apps such as customized push notifications, discounts and recommendations.
And only a third of small businesses have integrated emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (chatbots or voice assistants) or augmented reality. Gunner Tech CTO Dary Merckens said machine learning "always leads to better and stickier experiences for our customers, which is the name of the game at the end of the day."
Sixty-nine percent of small business apps support Android, while 66 percent support iOS.
Some of the issues regarding apps may well be tied to the challenges faced by small business IT teams. A recent CompTIA survey of 650 U.S. SMBs found that just 18 percent of respondents feel they excel in technology vision and strategy, even though 64 percent say technology is a primary factor in pursuing their business objectives.
And a separate SolarWinds survey of 307 technology pros in the U.S and Canada found that 75 percent of respondents aren't completely confident they have all the necessary skills to manage their IT environments over the next three to five years.
Small businesses are weakest in that regard – 49 percent of small business tech pros are somewhat to completely unconfident in their ability to manage environments in the near future, compared to 31 percent of medium sized tech pros and 27 percent of enterprise pros.
At the same time, 37 percent of small business tech pros say cost is a significant barrier to career development, compared to 29 percent of all respondents.