The majority of small-business owners expect to see a bigger return on investment from technology than from new employees this year, according to a new survey.

In its fifth annual Brother Small Business Survey, business products manufacturer Brother International discovered that 72 percent of owners feel that technology will pay off more than hiring in 2014.

While 49 percent of respondents felt that investing in technology is still a top priority this year, 63 percent frequently feel overwhelmed with the number of business technologies on the market. They are also split 50/50 as to whether it’s riskier to adopt new technologies quickly and not receive sufficient ROI, or to hold off and possibly hand their competitors an advantage.

Of the technologies that are out there, smartphones and tablets top the list of those that small-business owners need to run their businesses, at 41 percent. Customer relationship management tools followed at 32 percent, social media tools at 21 percent, and cloud services at 15 percent.

“Our survey shows that while small business owners understand the value of new technologies, they are still a bit overwhelmed and struggle with choosing the right time to adopt them to have the greatest impact on their business,” said Brother’s vice president of marketing, John Wandishin.

The survey contacted 500 U.S.-based owners of small businesses with less than 100 employees in January. The survey results were presented in partnership with SCORE, which provides mentoring and workshops to entrepreneurs and small businesses.

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