In this era of bank consolidation, Early, Cloud & Co. has introduced a telephone-service product that it says will provide smoother integration between merging back offices.

The Newport, R.I.-based software vendor developed its new customer service call-center product to help tie together varying telephone-support systems using both mainframe and client-server technology.

Early, Cloud officials claim this "three-tiered" system -- which comprises workstation functions, a workgroup server, and a host component - is more flexible and advanced than previous offerings.

"A lot of our customers wanted to project a single image during their consolidation," said Kevin Kelly, the president Of Early, Cloud. "They wanted the ability to integrate all those back ends without disrupting them." The new product, called CallFlow, was designed with a different architecture than Early, Cloud's previous Teleservicing Control System, which had a more fixed format and was primarily host-based. Through alliances with Tandem Computers Inc. and International Business Machines Corp., CallFlow provides messaging capability and combines client-server and mainframe technology.

"(Our customer) wanted to take advantage of the new client-server technology," said Gary Krueger, the vice president for sales and marketing. "But they anticipated the mainframe as a data repository and wanted to leverage that data and use client terminals."

For First Bank System - an Early, Cloud customer based in Minneapolis, Minn. -- that's exactly what attracted the bank's managers to this new system.

"We wanted to offload some burden from the host system," said Bernie McGarrigle, the manager for emerging technology for First Bank.

First-Quarter Goal

The bank currently uses Early, Cloud's older TCS product, but expects to ramp up to CaliFlow by the first quarter of 1995. The new system, Mr. McGarrigle said, will allow for better transfer of client or account information from program to program for use in separate banking areas - like sales and booking.

Using the client-server technology, the bank can make imaging a part of the system as well. Through imaging, customer service representatives could look at the actual documents rather than just the data.

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