After a two-year effort, Fleet Financial Group has gone live with an enterprise data warehouse powered by Informix Corp.

Brad Spivack, director of financial services marketing for Informix, said that the data warehouse is one of the five largest in the U.S. financial services industry in terms of the number of data feeds.

It represents "the next generation of data base technology for us," said Randall Grossman, senior vice president and director of customer data management and analysis at Fleet, which has been in the forefront of such innovations in recent years.

It also signals that Fleet has taken over management of its data in- house. The Boston-based banking company had relied on a data-base vendor, Harte Hanks Technologies.

The drawback in sending information to a third party for the creation of data bases, said Mr. Grossman, was that "the format was proprietary and you couldn't manipulate data for real customer analysis."

It also took five weeks to format the necessary data tapes.

Fleet had no choice, he said, but to take control of its own operation. "We wanted 36 months of data, more detail, and daily and weekly updates."

The $100.7 billion-asset bank is already using data from its new warehouse in six projects.

"We're very much in the shakedown-cruise mode," said Mr. Grossman. "The ship has gone into the harbor and, by God, it floats!"

At Fleet, the client/server data warehouse standardizes data from 34 sources, including automated teller machines, branches, deposit, loan, investment, and telephone banking systems.

It will eventually expand to 66 sources.

To date the enterprise data warehouse has collected customer account, transaction, and demographic information from Fleet's retail and commercial businesses.

The enterprise data warehouse and smaller data marts are in full production with 64 central processing units on a cluster of Sun Microsystems Inc. 6000 servers.

The warehouse is loaded with 350 gigabytes of information but is expected to grow to four terabytes.

The system has 125 users, which is to grow to 1,000 by the end of 1999.

Though the initial focus is on marketing and sales, the system has been designed to accommodate more functions later, Mr. Grossman said. "We're looking at integrating the branch sales platform so we can have a more focused view of selling to customers in local markets."

A prototype for the branch application system is in production and should roll out sometime next year.

"Basically, we're going to use it for all aspects of customer marketing and across all channels to evaluate the effectiveness of a broad set of marketing campaigns, product design, and pricing," Mr. Grossman said.

The project came in at more than $30 million, but under the $38 million budget.

Fleet selected Informix Dynamic Server with the Advanced Decision Support Option and the Extended Parallel Option over data base technology from International Business Machines Corp., Oracle Corp., and Teradata.

The Fleet announcement was Informix's third in as many months about a big-bank relationship.

In July it announced that Norwest Corp. would install Informix relational data base technology in its trust department. And in June the vendor said First Union Corp. had launched an enterprisewide data warehouse using Informix software to capture customer account information from 20 sources.

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