How did DBS rise to the challenge of becoming digital?

Besides the stiff competition in the traditional banking industry, DBS is faced with disruptors in the field from financial technology and versatile start up that offers financial services. Find out how DBS adapts to this shift and remain at the forefront of a digitalised financial industry.

At the Adobe Experience Forum 2017, Pearlyn Phau, Deputy Group Head of Consumer Banking & Wealth Management of DBS Bank, shared about DBS’s journey and experiences towards their goal of becoming digital in consumer banking. Our interview delves deeper into the journey of this transformation and how DBS foresee in the future of the banking sector.

Disrupting the business model to remain competitive

The banking industry is being profoundly impacted by new technologies and changing customer expectations. Fintechs and non-traditional banking players like Alibaba are attacking the financial services value chain. In such an environment, our future success depends on our ability to innovate, harness the digital revolution and completely reimagine the role of banks and the customer experience. By harnessing the digital opportunity, DBS considers deeply about customers’ true needs and their real-jobs-to-be-done, and how they can extend our reach into larger geographies without the need for an extensive physical branch network.

Over the past few years, DBS has been embracing various forms of digital technology to help simplify and improve the customer experience. Some examples of these technologies include cloud computing, artificial intelligence and data analytics.

Talent upskilling towards digital

DBS foresaw the importance of future-proofing their employees by helping them to build the relevant skill sets and mindset. DBS aims to become a 22,000 person startup by providing their staff with the training and development opportunities to prepare for the changing expectations and needs of the consumers.

To increase the agility of the organisation, DBS conducted digital master classes and hackathons to encourage employees to embrace a digital mindset through experiential learning and experimentation. To date, more than 2,000 employees gained exposure to the digital culture, agile methodology and other digital working concepts through human-centred design workshops and hackathons held throughout the region. This novel learning method helps staff to adopt a more nimble approach when coming up with solutions, and through the process forge good relationships with startups, leveraging innovation from the exchange of ideas to adapt to changing times and customers’ needs.

Committed to supporting its employees, DBS invested in innovative learning facilities and recently established DBS Academy learning centres in Singapore, Indonesia and Taiwan. The DBS Academy conducts close to 15,000 training sessions each year, including a growing number of digital courses. In 2016, DBS Academy conducted about 107,000 training days and employees underwent an average of over five days of training.

One of DBS’ key initiative in 2016 includes a digital curriculum for all staff to develop a digital mindset. Through a blended learning methodology, DBS strives to groom digital evangelists and empower thought leaders in the digital world and plans to roll out a cutting edge virtual learning programme. The medium and delivery format of the training programmes are constantly reviewed to maintain appeal to the multi-generational and culturally diverse workforce.

With a greater emphasis on social and collaborative learning today, DBS taps on new technology to change the way people learn and provide the relevant tools to facilitate this by leveraging digital platforms to encourage learning on-the-go. A suite of e-learning and mobile learning applications were created to provide employees with tools that enrich their learning agenda. DBS Power Up, an app that is exclusive to DBS employees, is one of the many digital initiatives that was launched to enhance employee experience and enable peer-based learning.

Adapting to an agile ‘startup’ culture

Digital disruption continues to force rapid change upon businesses and whole industries, and banking is not immune. In response, over the past few years, DBS has been named World’s Best Digital Bank by Euromoney last year. This year, the digital agenda advances with the rollout of digibank, a mobile-only bank, pressing ahead with customer journeys and becoming more data-driven.

On the fronts of people strategy, DBS is re-wiring the organisation to have a startup culture and mindset: by establishing experiential learning platforms, introducing new ways of working, re-designing office spaces and fostering ecosystem partnerships to encourage employees to embrace a spirit of experimentation and innovation. This comes as part of the vision to create a 22,000-person startup.

Since 2015, over 1,000 experiments had been done to support this vision, and employees are encouraged to be intrapreneurs. With mentorship and funding from the bank, a number have established startups while pursuing their day jobs. Through a broad-based digital curriculum, hackathons, incubators or accelerators and fintech partnerships, DBS employees have also embraced experimentation and innovation.  

The future of the digitalised financial industry

As the pace of digital adoption increases, the ability to deliver world class digital capabilities to consumers becomes of paramount importance. Hence, DBS steps up on delivering a holistic customer experience across their array of platforms. This is established by placing themselves in the consumers’ shoes, understanding their needs and how to fill that gap.

It is important to place customers at the heart of the banking experience. To do so, it is crucial to embrace a culture of innovation to make banking simpler and faster for customers. This alignment should begin from the beginning of their banking relationships with the provider, day-to-day transactions and to assist in their financial decisions.

To achieve this, DBS has to be versatile in understanding the customers’ needs, from a face-to-face basis, digitally on the mobile or internet, or a combination of both. This includes having to examine their journey from beginning to end and apply human-centred design to develop relevant solutions. In short, DBS creates a seamless experience marrying technology with automation. The banking services are designed to be innovative and nimble enough to address customer needs and be able to provide an intuitive and relevant banking experience. It is about leveraging technology to create a first-class customer experience.

Over the last few years, DBS have both expanded and further integrated their physical and digital channels to enable customers in seamless transactions across multiple touch points, in their everyday lives such that banking becomes powerfully simple.

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