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Small Businesses Focus On PCs, Networking As Outlook Brightens

Desktop and laptop computers are the top IT purchasing priority in 2004 among small businesses. Business automation software and networking products are also among the highest priorities.

Those are some of the key findings in an exclusive survey conducted among small businesses -- defined for this survey as those with fewer than 100 employees -- by Small Biz Pipeline.

Small businesses' plans to spend aggressively on PCs and networking products -- including wireless -- certainly represent good news for critical tech sectors that have been hit hard in recent years. The news is also positive because small businesses represent such a huge portion of the U.S. economy: the Small Business Administration says that a full 90% of the 60 million businesses in the U.S. have fewer than 20 employees, while 50% of American workers are employed in companies with fewer than 100 employees.

And the Small Biz Pipeline survey was completed by many of these very small companies: 62% of the 227 respondents work in companies with less than $1 million in revenue, while 62% have fewer than 10 employees.

But these companies have strong technology agendas for this year. Among survey respondents:

  • 29% say desktop/laptop computers are their No. 1 strategic priority among planned IT purchases in 2004
  • 17% say business automation software -- productivity packages, accounting packs and the like -- are their top priority
  • 16% cite networking products and another 14% cite the closely related category of wireless networking products. In all, that's 30% or nearly one in three that say networking products are their top priority.

The survey's other findings are somewhat of a mixed bag, with both upbeat and cautious findings among respondents.

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