Although researchers have studied the buying patterns and purchasing motivations of consumers for a long time, businesses remain poorly understood as buyers. To address this situation, Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) today is launching Business Technographics North America, a business segmentation system that predicts the eBusiness budgets, progress and aspirations, technology-buying styles, and technology adoption of the largest companies in the United States.

“The average Global 2,500 firm will spend $35 million on eBusiness initiatives next year, yet little is known about how these purchase decisions are made,” said David E. Weisman, group director at Forrester. “Similarly sized firms within the same industry often make very different decisions when selecting and implementing new technologies — it’s not a good segmentation system, but it’s all that marketers have today. What Business Technographics provides is a framework for explaining and predicting the what, why, and how of business technology decisions.”

“Understanding a company’s eBusiness ambitions and spending styles provides insight into where they will make their technology investments,” said Patrick Callinan, senior analyst at Forrester. “While virtually every company will continue to invest in infrastructure — servers, software, storage, and networking gear — only the more risk-tolerant firms are making early investments in things like supply chain applications and wireless LANs. Surprisingly, Linux has yet to achieve enterprise credibility in any segment.”

To determine the eBusiness progress and aspirations of companies with revenues greater than $1 billion, Forrester surveyed more than 1,000 senior business and IT executives in the United States. The Business Technographics segmentation is based on three dimensions of eBusiness culture: technology risk tolerance, which predicts a willingness to buy new technology; executive commitment, which predicts the level of investment in new initiatives; and business/IT coordination, which describes acompany’s buying style. Combining these three dimensions produces a segmentation of buyers that can be used to predict a company’s technology choices, eBusiness investments, and purchase processes.

Companies with a technology risk tolerance that is above average are more willing generally to adopt new technologies or to work with lesser-known technology providers. Dynamos — risk-tolerant companies with high levels of executive commitment and high interdepartmental coordination — are the eBusiness technology leaders, spending the most on new technologies and rolling out some of the earliest uses of new applications. Companies with high risk tolerance and executive commitment but poor departmental coordination — Mavericks — also spend more on new technologies business units, but they often circumvent IT to implement new technologies. High-tech companies usually fall into this segment.

Risk-tolerant companies with low levels of executive commitment fall into two segments. Mobilizers are firms in which senior management doesn’t understand eBusiness, but strong departmental coordination enables them to be early technology adopters. Daredevils, lacking both executive support and departmental coordination, have low expectations and below-average budgets for eCommerce. Despite these hurdles, there are managers at these companies who push through innovative new applications, keeping these firms technologically competitive.

Companies with a technology risk tolerance that is below average generally take a cautious approach to eBusiness, often waiting until new technologies have been proven to be worth the investment. However, this group does not necessarily spend less on technology. Followers –companies with high executive commitment and departmental coordination — simply buy technology later, after it has matured. These companies get eBusiness, but they trail the pack on eBusiness initiatives and metrics. Meanwhile, Dreamers, companies with executives who get eBusiness but lack strong departmental coordination, often spend selectively on new technologies.

Risk-averse companies with a weak commitment to eBusiness from senior management trail the other companies in their implementation of technology. Plodders, which benefit from good departmental coordination, suffer from small budgets and a lack of ambition for eCommerce revenues. Stragglers come out at the bottom of the heap, with a low tolerance for technology risk, small budgets, little support from senior management, and low coordination of eBusiness projects. These firms are the most likely to seek the assistance of consultants to help them compete in the eCommerce arena.

This Benchmark Data Overview, which is a graphical analysis of Forrester’s Business Technographics Q1 2001 North America Benchmark Study, formed the basis of this segmentation. This study draws on data from more than 1,000 senior executives at Global 2,500 companies — firms with revenues greater than $1 billion. In the coming months, Forrester will release research findings on eBusiness Technology budgets and buying behaviors. In addition, Forrester will further research the buying plans and behaviors of businesses for eBusiness infrastructure technologies like servers, networks, and storage.