Sun Microsystems Computer Co. and Broadway & Seymour Inc. have combined their wares to form what they say will be part of the next wave in retail bank automation.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Broadway & Seymour is providing its object- oriented retail banking software on Sun's Unix-based workstations and servers.

The resulting products offer powerful customer information capabilities for delivering services across all retail banking areas, the companies said.

Broadway & Seymour is the applications developer and systems integrator for the project.

The two companies have already collaborated on several large efforts for companies such as Chase Manhattan Corp., Nabanco, and AT&T Universal Card Services, which uses Sun systems for customer service.

No bank has yet purchased products resulting from the most recent Sun/Broadway & Seymour partnership, though the companies said they can provide the new products immediately.

Laurie Yoler, Sun's global manager for the financial services industry, said the two companies are working together because they share a common vision for the future of retail banking. Both maintain a focus on object- oriented, client/server-based systems.

"Broadway & Seymour has a good grasp of how technology can be used by banks as a strategic weapon," said Ms. Yoler.

Broadway & Seymour's retail bank system, for example, handles data warehousing, which delivers information for comprehensive customer profiles to the desktop. Experts consider data warehouses to be an important part of banking's future.

"Retail banks are beginning to differentiate themselves through the efficiency with which they can manage information and improve service," said Rob Theis, corporate director for financial services at Mountain View, Calif.-based Sun, a unit of Sun Microsystems Inc.

"Our joint efforts (with Broadway & Seymour) will help U.S. banks to be more customer focused and offer sophisticated services like investment and portfolio analysis."

Edward Thompson, senior vice president at Broadway & Seymour, said one advantage to working with Sun is the company's presence within the financial services industry. Sun is the No. 1 Unix vendor and has large shares of the trading, securities, and banking markets.

Mr. Thompson added that Broadway & Seymour's architecture requires the large, high-performance computing environment that Sun provides.

"This partnership gives us a competitive advantage over the rest of the industry, and is part of our long-term, strategic investment to go beyond traditional branch automation, to enterprise-wide retail delivery," he said.

All of the systems developed under the recent agreement will be based on Sun's Sparc/Solaris network systems and Broadway & Seymour's object- oriented banking systems.

Broadway & Seymour's banking platform makes advanced customer service capabilities available to branch representatives and takes advantage of the multimedia capabilities of Sun computers.

The software does geodemographic and psychographic modelling (target marketing techniques), client profiling, workflow and imaging, investment management and planning, and investor communications.

Sun's platform, through the integration of open network computing and telecommunications technology "helps banks to expand their delivery channels, and improve efficiency and revenue potential of branches, calls centers, and other service departments," said Mr. Theis.

The core of Sun's technology is SunXTL, a computing architecture that links computers and telephones, enabling applications to control calls and access multiple data bases in a common, networked environment.

Known as computer-telephony integration, or CTI, the technology in a banking environment can enhance customer relationship management. With CTI customer service representatives can transfer phone calls along with associated screens of information to other bank officers, eliminating the need for reentry of customer information. Telephone and computer conferences are also possible with the system.

Software vendors that write applications to the SunXTL architecture will be able to integrate with any phone system a bank uses, said Ms. Yoler.

Sun is planning to work with additional channel partners for retail banking platforms, she said.

Broadway & Seymour will also partner with other vendors to take advantage of the OS/2 and Windows NT operating environments, said Mr. Thompson.

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