PNC Bank is aiming to get personal with customers on the Internet.
"We're talking about taking our first-generation Web site and making it dynamically personalized," said Martin Evancoe, manager of on-line financial services.
Though the bank added transactional capabilities to its Web site in June, "it's still 'one-size-fits-all,'" he said. However, he added, "we are a step along the way to more dynamic content" with help from Vignette Corp.
PNC chose to work with Vignette, of Austin, Tex., and its StoryServer system. The technology will enable the bank to get each of its lines of businesses up and running with related content on the Web. These include the retail bank, private bank, military bank, and corporate bank.
"Everyone wants a view of their own," said Mr. Evancoe. "These segmented groups are fighting to be the first to get personalized content."
The bank's first step will be to personalize for segments, then individuals.
Amy Strycula, PNC's Web channel manager, said StoryServer is being tested internally, "which allows us to understand and map existing and future content." The bank hopes to roll out some applications by yearend.
Initially, the technology will change the way PNC delivers Learning Link, which has topics of the month such as tax or vacation planning. Learning Link will be modified according to an individual customer's interests.
StoryServer is available on Sun Solaris and Microsoft Windows NT operating platforms and supports all major data bases and Web servers. PNC runs an Oracle Corp. data base system.
"This is the tool to get us to that one-to-one relationship," said Mr. Evancoe.
Privately held Vignette was founded in 1995 by Ross Garber, chairman, and Neil Webber, chief technology officer. They ran the company until June, when Gregory Peters came aboard as president and chief executive officer.
The company delivered its first version of StoryServer in January 1997, marketing it as a way to get away from static Web pages.
The initial market was new media and publishing companies, but demand has spread to financial services and high technology companies.
Of 120 Vignette customers, 12 are in financial services, including Citicorp, First Chicago NBD Corp., Royal Bank of Canada, and thestreet.com.
First Chicago is using StoryServer to expand its retail Web site beyond being a catalogue of services.
The StoryServer 4.0 version has four Internet relationship management functions: life-cycle personalization, open profiling, advanced content management, and decision support.
Vignette marketing vice president Peter Klante said, "It's not enough to attract (people to a Web site), you have to engage and retain them. We want to convert lookers into bookers."
In the conventional banking world, he said, "you're automating the way customers interact with a company in a predefined way. You can't just Web- enable that because on-line the customer is in control and decides when, where, and with whom to interact."
Mr. Klante said banks must use personalization and other techniques to retain customers. He said Vignette's principal competition comes from BroadVision Inc. and its One-to-One software.