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The Web Smart 50

Call an end to that head-shaking and tut-tutting at the mere mention of the Web. The bust is history. Penance is over. The Web is not only cool again: It's hot. Sure, this time around it's different. The excitement, so vaporous in the bubble years, now pays dividends in hard coin. Productivity soars, costs plunge, and new markets come to life.

The companies in the Web Smart 50 saw it coming all along. They knew that smart info-tech investments would shake up the doughnut business and lift the next generation of stealth fighter jets skyward. During the downturn, they kept ponying up for Web technologies and methodically overhauling their businesses.

The Web Smart 50 profiles the most innovative projects within corporations. The trends that cut across industries are distilled into six categories, from collaboration and customer service to management. It makes for a diverse crew of companies, with plenty of surprises. Dell Inc. (DELL) you would expect. But Whirlpool Corp. (WHR) and the FBI? They offer innovations of their own.

Add it all together, and it's a real-life portrait of the next stage of the Web. The Internet, it's clear, is being woven into every aspect of business and is shaking up entire industries. How so? Read on. By Heather Green

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