Lost in the noise about banking's latest mega-merger is the fact that incompatible computer platforms can turn big earnings projections into big charge-offs. Just ask Wells Fargo.

Not so with KeyCorp, which is using a firmwide common systems platform as the premise for its ambitious plans to expand nationally. "Most of the work on (the platform) has been done post-merger (with Society National Bank)," says James Moss, chief banking analyst at Duff & Phelps. "They realized the systems side was fundamental to their success. They didn't move ahead with trying to push a lot of product out the door until they felt they had the database marketing system behind it."

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