A Visa U.S.A. survey of small-business owners found four distinct levels of technology-readiness.

Of 350 respondents, 34% were eager to pursue the latest technologies, but another 19% saw no benefit in doing so.

In the middle ground, 21% were interested in gearing up but did not know how to do so, and 26% were content with the services they had.

Visa said it did the survey to improve its understanding of how to market cards and other products to small-business owners. Visa found that certain views on technology correlated with demographic categories.

The one-third that embraced technological advance tended to be white males in the Northeast and Northwest who manage companies with revenues exceeding $250,000.

These "early adopters" were more likely than others to use the Internet frequently and to say that technology helps them reduce paperwork.

The 19% with little or no interest in technology tended to be older than 50 and running smaller companies. Forty percent of this group worked in retailing.

"Diversity characterizes the small-business marketplace, and we recognize that the various groups within this segment represent significant opportunities," said Bruno Perreault, senior vice president of commercial card products at Visa.

Among the 21% of the survey sample who recognized the value of technology but said they felt overwhelmed by it, 95% were concerned about Internet security issues.

The remaining 26% said they found value in technology but had little interest in anything beyond basic computer programs and e-mail. This group tended to work in hospitality and travel, not-for-profit institutions, or construction.

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