The power of the Internet, and the computing power required to do business on it, is spurring Prudential Securities to upgrade 11,000 computers to 266 Mhz Pentiums, adopt NT servers and rewrite its BOSS 2000 branch office support system for the Internet.

"We're trying to get a common base so that the financial advisor, whether he's working at home or working on his laptop or working in the branch, will have a common browser interface to all of the applications that we provide him," says William H. Anderson, CIO of Prudential Securities.

While the company rolled out a branch system that put PCs with 486 CPUs on every desktop in 1994, connected to a Sybase database and running on a Unix server over a frame relay network, that system will be replaced with the new NT solution and T1 capability in all 250 domestic branches, making Pru Securities the latest in a slew of financial services institutions to migrate to the Microsoft platform. "NT has the ability to be integrated into other Windows products, so with the combination of capability, scalability, integration, plus Microsoft's financial strengths, more financial services companies are opting to use NT," says Craig Elderkin, partner at Diamond Technology Partners.

The aim of the investment is the same goal many banks and brokerage firms are turning to IT to achieve-increase efficiency and boost customer service. "The customer will notice a difference from their conversations with the broker because the faster the broker can transact the business and do the queries necessary to answer customer questions, the happier the client is," Anderson says.

The $60 million hardware investment was necessary because the present desktops didn't have the memory needed for Internet browsers or the new NASDAQ quote system, he adds.

Another portion of the upgrade will directly impact Pru on-line customers, who will see two major on-line upgrades at the end of the year- including live, on-line trading for selected customers. The installation and conversion began in September and will extend into 1999.

-sausner tfn.com

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