Seeking to stem the tide of paper pumped out by its computers, First Michigan Bank Corp. is using laser-disc technology to store and retrieve reports.

With $2.2 billion of assets, First Michigan is a community bank holding company with 12 affiliate banks based in Holland, Mich. The laser-disc storage technology, known as Computer Output to Laser Disk (COLD), was developed by LaserAccess Corp., Seattle, Washington.

First Michigan, which outsources its data-processing operations to Systematics Financial Services, Inc., had previously relied on microfiche to store its documents. According to Linda Elenbaas, director of information services at First Michigan, the microfiche solution simply wasn't efficient enough.

Large Document Volume

"Microfiche created a customer service bottleneck," Ms. Elenbaas said, "When we looked at the alternatives, PC-based optical systems were not powerful enough.

The LaserAccess solution, though, seemed like it would help us reduce paper and provide superior customer service. Equally important was the fact that the system is supported by Systematics."

Ms. Elenbaas explained that First Michigan's 12 banks generated hundreds of pages of documents each day. Couriers transported time-sensitive reports from First Michigan's data center to the banks each morning. Systematics also maintained master copies of the reports at the data center in microfiche format.

On-Line Generation

Ms. Elenbaas said that the bank was faced with 783 boxes of paper at the data center, as well as 11,000 original and 37,000 copies of microfiche added each month. This amounted to four million report pages generated monthly.

The new Laser Access Optical Data System stores both current and archival mainframe reports. These reports can be generated on-line from any terminal or PC with mainframe access.

Ms. Elenbaas said that customers can now view documents on-line at the branch rather than waiting several days for a microfiche copy.

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