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Benchmark: Small-Company Technology Use

A quick look at some data compiled by IBM that examines how small and midsize companies are spending technology dollars.

Computer technologies and the percentage of small companies that use them

Desktop computers 82%

Workstations 51%

Local- or wide-area networks 37%

Technology services, such as consulting and maintenance 37%

Midrange computers 26%

Mainframe computers 19%

None of the above 3%

With all the hype surrounding new technology, it's often hard to get a handle on what other small companies actually own, as opposed to what manufacturers would like to sell them. That's why we found the above IBM-funded survey of 514 executives of small and midsize companies helpful. Although many of the companies surveyed are fairly substantial in size -- they ranged from $5 million to $99 million in annual sales -- the only truly pervasive technology was ordinary desktop computers; the majority of businesses did not, for example, have local- or wide-area networks.

Most of the companies have been using their technologies for a while. Mainframes had been in place for an average of 7.5 years, while most of the other applications were introduced to the businesses 6 or 7 years earlier. Only local- and wide-area networks were significantly newer, with a mean age of 3.7 years.

Source: "Business Technology and the Information Highway: A Survey of Small Business Executives," conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide, New York City, for IBM, White Plains, N.Y., January 1994.

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