Online Storage Enables Greater Efficiency For DST Systems

DST Systems, Inc. (Kansas City, MO) is the country's largest provider of recordkeeping and documentation services for the mutual fund industry. The company has more than 200 investment management company clients, representing a total of 33.4 million shareholder accounts. These clients rely on DST to issue confirmation statements, account summaries, transaction statements, and value statements to shareholders, and other lengthy reports for internal use. The computer systems and applications required to support this customer base represent an enormous data asset. To access this data efficiently, DST maintains online DASD storage, supported by near-line (optical) storage systems with more than 2.5 terabytes of capacity.

System Development
To efficiently manage the vast amount of data required to service mutual fund clients and shareholders, DST has implemented an image-enabled work management system. The database used by this system includes copies of all statements sent to shareholders and non-image account data captured in a COLD (Computer Output to Laser Disk) application. Initially installed in early 1993, this system has greatly improved data accessibility and therefore the speed and quality of customer service.

As used by DST, a file server writes data to five Cygnet Model 1803 optical storage libraries, equipped with either ATG or Philips LMS drives. Data is accessed by PC clients. An optical stratification function allows PowerStore® to group related data on individual disks for faster access and minimized robotic exchanges.

DST worked closely with Cygnet, IBM and Philips LMS to ensure that PowerStore was architected for high volume, mission critical business applications. PowerStore supports a variety of both server and client platforms, ranging from AS/400 to Windows NT. DST markets the system to companies in the insurance, mutual fund, banking and health care industries.

New Efficiencies
Before the system was installed, records were archived on microfiche, and the documents that were sent to shareholders were not easily accessible to customer service agents. Shareholder inquiries took days, or even weeks to research from cumbersome microfiche and tape files, or from boxes of paper files stored both on and off-site. Almost all inquiries had to be handled on a "call back" basis.

Now, after being held on DASD for three days, or a period of time specified by the individual client, all confirmation statements, account summaries and value statements are recorded as images on optical media. When shareholders or brokerage firms call with questions (particularly common at tax time), agents have almost instantaneous access both to images and to stored data, which can be brought up and manipulated in various applications. The PowerStore application has practically eliminated the need for callbacks, yielding significant savings in customer service man-hours. Even more important, it has dramatically increased customer satisfaction.

PowerStore is a registered trademark of DST Technologies, Inc. Other brands and products are trademarks of their respective owners.