Considering financial institutions collectively spend tens of billions of dollars investing in technology, the last thing they want is to get stuck with solutions that don't support their respective business strategies. But what if bankers could test-drive solutions to ensure that they get exactly what they pay for? Informix Software, Inc., of Menlo Park, CA, is making this possible with its Information Superstore, an environment where bankers can create holistic technology solutions using hardware and software from many top vendors. "If a bank wants to build a data warehouse to better understand their customers, they can bring in their data and we can provide consulting services to help them design the warehouse," says Steve Sommer, Informix's vp of enterprise solutions. At Informix's London superstore, Andrew Culshaw, head of information management at Barclays Bank, tested a combination of Informix's software development tools, object-relational technology, and relational on-line analytical processing (ROLAP) tools in a Web- based, three-tier environment. "You can use the Informix superstore to address a specific problem or to simply gain a better understanding of how products can work for you," he says.On the corporate side, this means that bankers can take data and test combinations of data warehousing and data mining technologies in a low-risk environment, without investing up front in new equipment and skills. -peterson

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