M One Inc.

Ten signs your bank is behind the technology curve:

1. When you ask for a Windows upgrade, someone calls the building superintendent.

2. Your executives can't tell which is the laptop and which is the Etch- A-Sketch.

3. Your technology provider will only give you a post office box to mail the check.

4. Your savings passbooks still get updated with the message, "Now Insured to $40,000!"

5. As a "valued customer," you receive an invitation to the Smith Corona Users Conference.

6. Your chief financial officer defines dynamic modeling as "changing the punch cards real fast."

7. The modem in your daughter's personal computer has more bandwidth than your branch communications lines.

8. The only person qualified to repair your equipment is called "Lefty" and lives in a refrigerator box.

9. Your MIS manager refers to his bottom desk drawer as the "data warehouse."

10. The Smithsonian Institution inquires if your bank would like to be showcased in its "Age of the Vacuum Tube" exhibit.

Do any of these sound familiar or did you laugh at them, realizing how far your bank has come?

The rapid pace of technological change has become a serious concern for bank CEOs. While much has been written about technology, it is often too complex and technical for the typical chief executive to grasp. Or it deals with systems, strategies, and investment levels that relate only to larger institutions.

This periodic column, called "Community View," will deal with technology issues specific to community banks. No dictionaries or glossaries will be required. It will address topics of immediate relevance from the CEO's perspective.

The column will tackle such issues as:

*How should you analyze your bank's technology spending?

*Is your bank a potential victim of technology risk?

*How will technology affect the community bank branch?

*What does client/server really mean, and how do I know it when I see it?

*How can you overcome board reservations about technology?

In addition covering common topics, a column will be devoted as often as necessary to answering specific questions. There is no need to identify yourself or your institution; just include asset size and a brief description of your specific niche. Your questions can than be answered with more relevant context.

There is a ridiculous misconception in the industry that small banks have neither the financial muscle nor the technological resources to stay alive.

How ironic. We live in a time when Peter Drucker has declared: "By and large, there are no more advantages to big business, only disadvantages."

We laugh at Dilbert cartoons because they are painfully realistic about the spread of corpocracy in America.

We witness a thriving venture capital and IPO market as it fuels the dreams of entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, we, as bankers, often view this world of opportunity as a world of threatening turmoil.

Though the competitive bar has never been higher, success clearly awaits those community bankers who view new technology as the great equalizer .

I hope this column will serve as a useful guidepost.

Please send comments, ideas, and questions for "Community View" to: Matt Barthel, American Banker, One State Street Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10004. Fax: 212-843-9600.

Ms. Seymann is president and chief executive of M One, a Phoenix-based consulting firm.

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