Bisys Group Inc. is the latest outsourcing company to offer a service aimed at easing the burden and expense of implementing a data warehouse.

Like rivals Fiserv Inc., M&I Data Services, and Alltel Information Services Inc., Bisys has introduced a set of analytical software applications that accept data from warehouses supported remotely by the company.

The aim is to fulfill banks' increasing demands for information without putting undue strain on their resources. Robert Landry, research director at Newton, Mass.-based Tower Group, said in a recent speech that banks can achieve "80% of the functionality of a data warehouse at 20% of the cost" by buying into pre-built solutions.

Building data warehouses from scratch can cost from $5 million to more than $30 million over five years, according to Mentis Corp., Durham, N.C. KPMG Peat Marwick put the total five-year cost for the typical big bank much higher-at $250 million to $750 million.

The price for Bisys' TotalVision package, customized for each installation, will vary, company officials said. They declined to give specific figures.

Bill Bradway, research director of Meridien Research in Newton, Mass., said Bisys is a few years behind its outsourcing rivals in bringing data warehousing to market.

Fiserv introduced InformEnt in 1992 and said it has about 30 customers. M&I introduced Information Desktop in 1994 and said it is used by 90 bank holding companies. Alltel released its Executive Notebook software in 1996 and has since upgraded it.

TotalVision uses two remote Bisys data-base facilities to process information and send it via local area networks to bankers' desktops. Bankers can use four integrated TotalVision software applications to view and analyze the warehoused information.

The applications include Executive Desktop, to graphically display key performance indicators; OnDemand!, for querying and reporting on detailed warehoused information; AppRecon, to reconcile daily accounting information between the general ledger and core applications; and Peer Analyzer, to chart bank performance against peers.

KPMG helped design the remote warehouses, and NCR supplied its Teradata data base to support them.

TotalVision gave one early user, Asheville Savings Bank of Asheville, N.C., a boost into data warehousing, according to bank officials. "We couldn't possibly have entered the data warehouse world on our own," said LuAnne Plantico, vice president of systems at the $350 million-asset institution.

Before turning to TotalVision in March, "we were using a variety of reports and sources. Often we took the data from sources, put them together, and manipulated them multiple times." TotalVision, she said, has saved all that work. It "gives folks time to analyze the data instead of trying to find it."

Asheville Savings Bank is using all four TotalVision applications.

"We use AppRecon on a daily basis to reconcile our host applications with our mortgage and credit card loans, to balance our general ledger books," Ms. Plantico said. "Before, we had to look at the host and on-site general ledger numbers and see whether they balanced."

The system's query and reporting tool, OnDemand!, "has been amazing" she said. "We really didn't have anything like it before at our fingertips."

The Peer Analyzer, she said, can graph financial data from other Office of Thrift Supervision and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. banks for comparison. "It pulls all the information together in one place. Before, we went on to the Internet, looked up the numbers of our peers, and then tried to graph them. It was all very time-consuming."

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