High Tech: Spending To Save

Which technology investments make sense for your business, even in a slowing economy?

Bollinger Shipyards of Louisiana, a major marine-construction and repair company with a global clientele, was mired in the steamboat era when it came to information management. Each of Bollinger's nine facilities was buying its own materials and generating a hefty paper trail. For every part they ordered, employees had to fill out an eight-section purchase order. Those orders added up fast. Each patrol boat Bollinger built for the U.S. Coast Guard contained about 4,000 parts.

Then Bollinger decided to leap into the information age. It paid $3 million to Oracle, based in Redwood Shores, Calif., for a suite of e-business software...

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