The Dec. 27 American Banker reported that 10 of the nation's largest 25 banks are installing new retail branch automation systems. No surprise there. The financial services industry spends more than any other sector of the economy on technology. And for most U.S. banks, retail services are among the most important lines of business.

However, missing from reports and studies of technology investments is the answer to a fundamental question: What is the effective payback from these investments?

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