John H. Harland Co. is offering new software for managing customer relationships.

Relationship Manager is aimed at financial institutions that are outgrowing their old marketing customer information file systems.

For years such systems, known as MCIFs, have been the engines of bank marketing departments. They let users perform basic tasks such as finding out the identities of customers who live in a single household. Most such systems are for single users and are based on the old MS-DOS operating system.

Harland said its new software is intended to push marketing capabilities further.

Most of the older systems update information only once a month, but "financial institutions are trying to move to real-time customer information management," said Mark Perlberg, president of the financial markets division of Atlanta-based Harland.

With Relationship Manager, updated information about products, customers, accounts, and transactions is available daily or weekly-and enterprisewide.

The system uses an open data base and supports Windows 95 and Windows NT client computers as well as Windows NT and Unix servers. Harland's proprietary ActiveAspect technology lets users view information in a customized manner.

Relationship Manager "is an example of a new class of analytic software that integrates data from multiple sources to support trend analysis and activities such as planning, profiling, and forecasting," said Henry Morris, director of research for data warehousing and applications at International Data Corp.

His company predicts that the analytic applications market will top $2 billion by 2000, and that growth will be fastest in industries such as banking and retail. For installations of large-scale data warehouses, which are considered critical to managing customer relationships, individual banks are spending at least $5 million and up to tens of millions of dollars, according to Tower Group of Newton, Mass.

Initially Harland will market Relationship Manager to banks with $25 million to $1 billion of assets. Later it will go after larger institutions too.

Harland's Mr. Perlberg said that his company, which installed 60% of bank MCIF systems, can lead in the enhancement of such systems to satisfy the industry's interest in total customer relationship management. Harland products installed in 1,300 banks include Max$ell, Total Marketer, and Pinnacle.

Harland entered the MCIF market in 1994 with the acquisition of Marketing Profiles Inc. of Orlando. It strengthened its position in 1996 by buying Okra Marketing Corp. of Tampa.

Harland's primary business since its founding in 1923 has been check printing. Today it is the second-largest check printer in the United States. Revenue in 1997 was $562.7 million, with 75% coming from the sale of checks and forms.

The company will host Relationship Manager servers and perform maintenance of the hardware and network at its enterprise service center in Orlando. Soon an in-house version will also be available. Harland offers both in-house and service center options for its current products.

Because of improvements in telecommunications technology, "where the data resides now is not as critical as it used to be," said Kathleen Khirallah, senior analyst at Tower Group.

Since October 1996, Harland has been performing multi-phased pilots of Relationship Manager with clients that have 75,000 to one million accounts. The cost of the system varies by the number of accounts an institution has.

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