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Study: Buyers to nibble at tech in 2003

Information technology spending will increase slightly in 2003, but companies will continue to closely scrutinize purchases, according to a new study.

Information technology spending will increase slightly in 2003, but companies will continue to closely scrutinize purchases, according to a new study.

In a survey released Monday, Forrester Research predicted that technology spending will increase just 1.9 percent this year. The study, "Benchmark North America: Business Technographics Data Overview," surveyed executives, directors and managers at 877 companies in North America with company revenue of at least $500 million.

The study said midsize companies will increase technology spending by 2.6 percent, and the finished goods manufacturing sector will buy 7.4 percent more IT goods and services than last year. The financial sector, which is the biggest IT buyer, is expected to post negative growth.

Still, even buyers who plan to open up their wallets are likely to be picky as the economy remains rocky. More than a third of the companies surveyed said business unit leaders outside of IT are "very involved" in purchasing decisions.

"IT products and services that shave costs through efficiency gains help retain customers, or solve the burgeoning integration dilemma in corporate IT have the best chance at success this year," Tom Pohlmann, research director at Forrester, said in a statement.

Nearly half of all companies said they planned to buy business intelligence tools this year, including data mining and analysis software. Customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning software purchases are expected to rebound.

The study isn't as pessimistic as a recent survey of 100 U.S. chief information officers by Goldman Sachs, which found that spending on hardware and software will decline by 1 percent this year.

The Forrester study is more in line with a report released last week by IDC, which found that buyers are loosening their purse strings just a bit. That survey of 1,000 chief executives and chief information officers worldwide found that 85 percent of companies plan to increase or maintain their IT spending this year. The IDC survey said companies plan to spend the bulk of their money on routine infrastructure upgrades.

All three surveys share one major finding: that buyers will constantly review purchases to make sure they're boosting the company's bottom line.