The future of banking is digital

 |   Singapore News Center

As one of Asia’s leading banking institutions, DBS is embracing disruption with a digital-first mentality. Read on to find out how DBS redefined both culture and innovation in the workplace, supported by the cloud.

One of Singapore’s most recognisable brand names, DBS also boasts a growing presence in the three Asian axes of growth: Greater China, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. Awarded the World’s Best Digital Bank by Euromoney in 2016, DBS has spent the last few years investing heavily in its digital agenda, whether redefining workplace culture, re-architecting its technology infrastructure, or leveraging emerging technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence and biometrics, in order to make banking both simple and seamless for its customers.

Like many financial services industry (FSI) players today, DBS recognises the need to embrace a digital-first mentality in order to deliver innovative customer experiences with both speed and agility. This is fuelled by the fact that retaining and growing customer loyalty has become a key challenge that FSI organisations face today, as customers become more informed and increasingly mobile, and at the same time expect consistent service across channels. According to Capgemini, more than 15% of customers are likely to leave their current bank in the next six months, as they now have more choice, as well as expectations over higher-quality service. This number rises to more than 50% with Gen Y customers.

DBS’ unique digital agenda: Making banking joyful

David Gledhill, CIO of DBS, believes at the core of their recipe for successfully embracing a digital agenda is the bank’s strategic intent to make banking joyful. “Our target is to become the world’s best bank. We see the most successful digital products bring joyful experiences to people, and we’ve got to be in that space.”

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Gledhill shares DBS’ three focus areas in their approach to digital transformation: “First, we’re digitising all the way to the core of our banking activities. Second, we guide our customers to embrace digital practices. Last but not least, we’re transforming the relationship between DBS employees and technology, in order to create a more productive workplace.”

Interestingly, DBS sees itself as a 22,000-person start-up, with management in full agreement that encouraging the shift in employee mindsets is a key driver of internal change. Investing in technology then becomes an enabler for individual employees and teams to collaborate better, with the higher goal of providing improved service to its customers.

Embracing the cloud for DBS’ transformation journey

Gledhill and his team came to the realisation that the cloud would play an integral role in their transformation journey. While evaluating the available options for productivity tools, Gledhill recognised that while serviceable enough for their current needs, traditional, on-premise tools wouldn’t be able to help DBS stay ahead of the innovation curve. “We’ll always be 12, 24 months behind, and that’s not a good place to be in if we wanted to ensure that everyone could, and would be delivering their best work,” he said.

DBS employees at the DBS Asia X office, where workspaces are reimagined to foster collaboration, communication and innovation

Office 365 became DBS’ platform of choice as it provided the richest and the deepest experience for their end users, without the need to retrain employees already familiar with the Office productivity experience. In addition, newer features such as OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, Yammer, and Skype for Business proved to be the most welcome additions to their productivity workflows.

DBS employees can now access documents on-the-go with OneDrive for Business

“Office 365 has really changed the game in terms of collaboration in the company,” Gledhill shared. “Skype meetings, OneDrive which enables easy sharing of documents, and SharePoint providing a new platform to create internal sites, have helped us build a more collaborative and communicative team. This is where we envisioned ourselves to be as a 22,000-man start-up, and Office 365 has helped us feel that we are now at the forefront of technology.”

More importantly, adopting Office 365 was seen as an essential tool in supporting culture shift within DBS. Gledhill notes that people are creatures of habit, and it was important to have a top-down approach to encourage use of these new tools. The DBS team took time in looking at ways they could incorporate these new features, including Yammer jams to encourage use of the enterprise social network tool, as well as training Office 365 gurus outside of the IT team who could help answer questions from employees.

One interesting outcome is the formation of an internal weekly radio station, utilising Yammer as a song request platform. Such experiments have helped drive adoption and understanding of Yammer among employees, for example.

Trust as a cornerstone for digital transformation

Security is one of DBS obsession in delivering a trusted banking experience for its customers

In the recent Microsoft Asia Digital Transformation Study, business leaders in Singapore identified cyber threats and security concerns as a top barrier to their digital journey. Trust is a cornerstone of the banking industry, and the same principle applies when DBS chose a cloud solution as part of its digital journey.

As a financial services company, DBS is heavily regulated and has to adhere to strict security and privacy standards. A move to Office 365 wouldn’t have been possible without absolute confidence in how Microsoft stores and handles customer data. “We looked at their tools, practices, encryption technologies, and a whole range of different features, and came to the conclusion that the cloud will ultimately be more secure than anything you can do on-premise,” said Gledhill.

In addition, DBS’ confidence in its evaluation was bolstered by access to comprehensive information in the Microsoft Service Trust Portal, the positive response from Microsoft to address Singapore banking guidelines, and access to the Microsoft Financial Services Compliance Program.

On a more personal level, Gledhill says, “Deploying Microsoft solutions has helped me sleep at night. I know they’re going to work, be safe, and provide strong security—everything that matters most to me.”

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