Royal Bank of Canada, which has been pursuing initiatives to improve customer profitability and marketing success for well over a decade, is just now getting to the hard part, bank officials said.

Royal Bank began compiling information about customers in a common data base in 1978, well before the term "data warehouse" was invented. And it began sorting customers into profitability segments-another facet of today's customer relationship management efforts-in the early 1990s.

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