The author James Thurber, once called upon by a bank manager to explain an overdrawn bank account, explained that he never kept a record of the checks he wrote. When the surprised manager asked how Thurber knew how much he had in the bank, an equally surprised Thurber replied, "I thought that was your business."

Today there is much more to the banking business than keeping track of account balances. And in an area to which banks may devote up to 25% of their overall spending by the year 2000, they must squeeze every last bit of relevance out of the data they compile on their most prized possessions - their customers.

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