Finding The Nifty Fifty

Think using the Web to sell doggie collars and Armani suits is a big deal? In the online world, that's the equivalent of wearing short pants. The real revolution is in the way companies are harnessing the Internet to retool the way they do business. They're innovating left and right. They are trolling oceans of data to offer their customers individually tailored products. They have turned the rules of engagement for entire industries upside down and inside out. That's why we have dedicated this issue to identifying 50 illuminating examples of Web smart companies from around the world.

Picking the Niftiest Fifty was anything but easy. Heading up the task, Technology Strategies editor Marcia Stepanek tapped into her experience covering how corporations are grappling with the cultural changes and technology challenges brought on by the Internet. Stepanek managed a far-flung team of dozens of editors and writers who spent more than three months whittling down a huge list of candidates to an almost-manageable short list of 75. Our list includes some well known Web pioneers such as Dell Computer Co. and Charles Schwab & Co. and a few surprises like Zara, a Spanish fashion company that is beating the pants off other clothing manufactures when it comes to filling its stores with new designs. We think even longtime tech-savvy companies will find plenty to learn from the group on our list.

We're doing a little innovating, too. Our newest feature is a column called Due Diligence by senior writer Peter Elstrom. Peter will bring his gimlet-eyed financial analysis to Internet companies that too often get by on hype and bluster. In every issue, Elstrom will separate the truly innovative businesses from the true dogs. We're confident that you will find it illuminating.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.