A Web Profit Prophet Spreads The Word

Three months ago, Cisco Systems Inc. faced a threat that could easily have turned into a disaster. The networking-equipment giant was running dangerously short on the key components used to build its sophisticated Internet gear. That didn't happen. Cisco's automated inventory and ordering system, which connects to suppliers and contract manufacturers over the Web, foresaw the problem and instantly sent out electronic cries for help. Cisco was able to boost its inventory by more than a third. That allowed the San Jose (Calif.) company to deliver sales growth of 61% for its quarter ended July 29, triple the rate of rival Lucent Technologies Inc.

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