CIO David Gledhill
2018 was an eventful year for the tech industry. Apple and Amazon competed for the trillion-dollar club, Facebook’s data breach grabbed global attention, artificial intelligence and advanced analytics became mainstream and DBS was awarded two world’s best bank awards!
Our work in three focus areas — being digital to the core, building a customer-centric organisation and changing the culture within — laid the foundations for a strong digital mindset within the bank. We benefitted from the technological investments we made and were able to go deeper, progress faster and continue to move the needle on digital transformation across the board.
In addition, we set new aspirations by establishing a platform operating model.
The new paradigm calls for businesses to respond rapidly to changing consumer demands with agility and scale. To do so, we set out on the next phase of transformation in 2018 — to think and behave like big technology companies by instituting the platform operating model.
Platforms bring together people, funding, technology assets and apps to deliver a customer service or product. They are based on a two-in-a-box framework which means that platforms are co-developed and maintained by the business and its technology partners who work together on joint goals, business strategy and an execution roadmap. Our platform operating model goes beyond engendering greater trust and transparency between partners: it fuses working relationships across internal teams to enable faster decision-making, greater visibility and shared ownership.
In 2018, 33 platforms were established and they were grouped under four categories. They had to be aligned to business drivers, provide enterprise support, be shared across the bank or play a role in enabling the overall operations of the bank.
A Platform Council was also set up comprising senior managers across the bank who provide strategic support and guidance to help platforms achieve their north star — the vision for each platform. Our conviction is that the platform operating model defines the future of business. It is spurred by our belief that “technology is business and business is technology”. Two examples of platforms in action — the data platform and the ecosystems platform — are detailed below.
We are using the data platform to transform us into a data-led organisation that delivers intuitive products and services.
We said we would drive business value through customer science
To strengthen our efforts to cater to digital customers’ needs, we combined customer behaviour data with system data to build real-time analytical models.
For example, the customer centre team has been able to reduce inbound calls by over 14% in Singapore by analysing customers’ transaction patterns, online behaviours and historical data to determine customers’ receptiveness towards digital fulfilment. Similarly, the Institutional Banking team was able to derive insights from supply-chain network data to deduce opportunities and risks in their customers’ supply chain networks. These insights increased our precision in acquiring customers, maximising our value to customers and supplementing credit decisions with transaction data.
We said we would drive instrumentation and build strong data-led models
Today, we use data and digital dashboards to map every step of our customers’ journey with us. These data-led models help prevent issues from occurring and keep customers engaged profitably so that we can deepen our relationship with them.
We set up an operations control centre to monitor customer journeys in real time. The centre’s system gathers behavioural and device performance data to anticipate and solve potential issues by assisting the customer through SMS, email or chatbots.
The new data-led models also enable us to create hyper-personalised solutions based on our customers’ needs. We do so by contextually introducing our products and solutions relevant to them at the right time.
We said we would rally our people to think data-first
We invested extensively to inculcate a data-first mindset across the bank. In 2018, over 10,000 people, including more than 900 senior managers, were educated on being data-driven. Programmes such as the ‘data heroes’ curriculum, honed analytics acumen and equipped employees with the skills of a data (analytics) translator — individuals who are able to translate business problems into analytics use cases and help design digital interventions.
We said we would drive responsible usage of data within the bank
With so many data projects, a strong governance framework was also put in place to ensure responsible data usage. Four principles — Purposeful, Unsurprising, Respectful and Explainable (or PURE) — underpin the framework.
Our ecosystems platform combines our strengths with those of our partners to enhance customer experience and drive inclusive growth.
We said we would build a strong ecosystem that was reliable — resilient — elastic — secure — scalable
Building digital connections with partners to nurture a strong ecosystem that is able to collaborate, create and innovate was a major focus in 2018. We provided our partners with the latest digital toolkits, a secure environment to experiment in as well as support through learning sessions and open houses.
We said we would take an ecosystem approach to reimagine customer experiences
We published over 350 APIs and connected with more than 90 partners — including household names such as AIG, Chubb, MSIG, Paisabazaar, IRAS, Singtel, Agrocorp, Calista, Bukalapak, Wanxiang, Grab, SoCash and GOJEK — which connected to our API gateways and introduced innovative and customer-centric experiences. Distribution partnerships also provided customised solutions for a range of sectors. For example, through our partnership with GOJEK, customers can now pay for their services with our credit and debit cards.
Our API developers’ portal also has over 3,500 registered developers who are working to enhance customer journeys by integrating DBS APIs such as points redemptions, funds transfers, rewards, bills payments etc. into their solutions. For example, SoCash has worked with DBS APIs to extend its cash network and help its customers access their cash anytime, anywhere.
Further, our recently launched Startup Xchange programme also helps DBS tap into the rich fintech ecosystem to accelerate and co-create niche products and services for both our employees and customers.
We said we would build a strong experimentation culture
A core focus over the past years — and what I can now attribute as our biggest strength in delivering results — has been the startup culture we invested in as part of our transformation journey. As a 26,000-person startup, our employees are now agile and quick to adapt to new challenges in the face of rapid change.
In 2018, DAX, our innovation hub in Singapore continued to engage DBS employees with over 300 events including hackathons, workshops as well as platform, ecosystem and community events.
Our popular Hack-to-Hire programme also helped us to identify and hire over 250 of the best tech talent across the region. We piloted a Hacker-in-Her programme in India to recruit talented women for tech roles.
We identified 101 Uni.Corns for the DBS UNI.CORN Management Internship programme, which gives students the opportunity to own, design and develop solutions for the banking sector.
We said we would build up our digital capabilities
Our efforts to train and build our employees’ digital capabilities have been successful, with employees from across the group now placing greater emphasis on being data-driven and digital-first.
Our Back2School programme nurtures peer-to-peer learning and helps create a culture of learning and teaching to drive curiosity across levels, while the DigiFY programme helps employees develop capabilities in seven important future skills — agile thinking, data, digital business models, digital communications, digital technologies, journey thinking, and risk and controls.
Our platform approach is spearheading a new way of working within the bank, creating new opportunities and taking a solution-focused approach to deliver great results. It is taking our digital aspirations and providing us with visible outcomes that are pervasive, at the front of the business as well as at the top line. In the past year, business and tech teams rallied together to create a seamless working model. In the coming year, we are all set to deliver on the outcomes they have jointly envisioned for the bank.
Chief Information Officer
DBS Group Holdings