In the old days, after making a loan a banker thumbed a locator pin into a well-worn chamber of commerce street map on the wall. In that clumsy fashion, two disparate pieces of information -- geography and customer base -- came together.
That banker was soon staring at an untidy forest of pins that indicated simply where the bank's money went. The map certainly couldn't easily absorb new bits of information or reveal vital marketing statistics about particular home owners.
In other words, if he wanted to launch an aggressive marketing campaign to increase his loans made and target, say, all home owners on Elm Street who have lived at their residences for more than 15 years, earning at least $50,000, he was out of luck.
Today such detailed searches are possible, with deft clicks of a few computer buttons.
One software product aiming to ease bankers into the information age fast lane is called BankVision. It marries ordinary street maps to databases full of marketing and demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau and private vendors.
Without getting up out of their seats or having to page through thick reference books, its users can examine the potential customers in a market share area, by neighborhood or individual.
Norman businessman Randy Grissom has been working on selling BankVision. He co-owns Tulsa-based XYZ Mapping, a small start-up company founded in 1992. Its only employees are Grissom and his three partners. They developed BankVision -- now being used by 15 banks in Oklahoma -- as well as other geographic information systems for oil, gas and financial industries.
With BankVision, financial institutions can target their efforts quite precisely, Grissom said.
"You wouldn't want to sell a $100,000 CD into a low-income housing tract," he noted.
At the same time, the software can prevent banks from straying afoul of a host of federal regulations that outlaw such practices as redlining, or discriminating against customers based on where they happen to live. A loan officer using BankVision, Grissom said, doesn't have to ignore a neighborhood, but can focus on reaching the best prospects there.
BankVision is actually a customization of a broad-based application known as ArcView, developed by Environmental Systems Research Institute, a leader in the sales of desktop mapping software. One of Grissom's three partners, Mike Donaldson, designed a special computer code to adapt ArcView for the banking industry.