With so many new high-technology products hyped as indispensable, it's hard to determine what you need to remain competitive. A recently released study by BIS Strategic Decisions, a technology market-research firm in Norwell, Mass., might come in handy. Late last year BIS surveyed 1,200 managers and owners of businesses with fewer than 600 employees about their information-technology possessions and purchase plans. Here are some highlights of the survey, which focused primarily on very small companies -- 76% of the businesses surveyed employ fewer than 10 people.

Investment in Office Technology

Type of equipment or service Percentage of companies that plan to buy Percentage of companies that own
Color ink-jet printer 7 6
Printer, type unknown 5 10
Server 7 11
Scanner 8 12
Monochrome ink-jet printer 5 12
On-line service 8 12
Notebook PC 11 13
CD-ROM 15 22
Fax modem 11 25
Laser printer 16 34
Dot-matrix printer 8 39
Modem 14 40
Desktop PC 22 61

Companies with personal computers spend an average of $5,412 each year on software, PCs, and printers combined. The larger the business, the less it allocates per employee. Companies with fewer than 5 employees spend an average of $1,448 per worker annually, while companies with 50 to 99 employees disburse only $211 per capita. Budgets for PC-related expenditures vary from industry to industry: on average, legal-services and manufacturing companies spend more than twice as much per year as retailers.

While 61% of the businesses surveyed own desktop PCs, fewer than 20% have any combination of notebook PCs, servers, scanners, and accounts with on-line services. Word-processing software is the one class of application software that a majority -- 73% -- of PC-owning businesses use. Source: "The Small-Business Market -- 1995," BIS Strategic Decisions, Norwell, Mass., January 1995.

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