SUN CUTS COSTS VIA WEB

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Sun Microsystems is proof that if the jury's still out on whether the Web can make a company money, it can definitely save a company money.

Sun has made pages and pages of internal documents available to employees through a private, Web-based network, saving printing costs.

A customer service initiative, SunSolve (http://sunsolve.sun.com), provides patches for software bugs. The company sends out 3,000 fixes per day online, saving $7.2 million a month.

A second service, Try-N-Buy, sells licensed software (http://www.sun.com/sunsoft/Developer-products/tnb/index.html). Allowing customers to download software via the Web lets Sun save on printing, fulfillment and licensing.

"We've been able to reduce costs....and increase customer satisfaction," said Jerry Neece, who until recently was senior product manager for Internet marketing.

Sun has a distinct advantage, however, in that its customers are technically savvy and comfortable with the Internet.

"They're not dealing with the unwashed masses of middle America," said John C. McCarthy, director of research at Forrester Research, Cambridge, Mass

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