How DBS Bank Makes People the Priority During a Pandemic

DBS Bank has a history of innovation. As Southeast Asia’s largest bank, DBS is today a tech company that happens to provide financial services. That ambition requires significant investment in technology and, more importantly, its people.

“The reason we’ll outperform our competition isn’t because of tech or IP, but because our people believe in what they’re doing,” said Piyush Gupta, DBS Group CEO.

Using Tech to Protect

As in crises of past generations, this pandemic will take an all-of-society effort to overcome.

Piyush Gupta, CEO, DBS

Every part of DBS’ business—from cash management to private banking and from SME to retail—is enriched by digital transformation.

When a DBS Bank employee tested positive for the novel coronavirus earlier this year, the bank used data from office access cards and personal calendars to conduct contact tracing within days. With the Covid-19 spreading, within weeks, they rolled out digital platforms that enabled business customers to submit forms without visiting a branch. These measures helped reduce risk and protect employees and customers amid Covid-19.

In a traditional bank, it takes months or more to roll out updates and new services. DBS did it in weeks and days.

“Through our partnership with DBS, their developers can self-provision the infrastructure that they need within the same day and serve their customers quickly,” said Sanjay Deshmukh, vice president and managing director for Southeast Asia and Korea at VMware.

Digitalizing DBS’ internal processes generated an abundance of benefits. By adopting continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD), DBS rolled out releases 10 times faster than before. For example, agile processes and a modern computing and cloud infrastructure enabled DBS to use video analytics to determine office space occupancy and decompress work areas. By ensuring safe distancing guidelines were properly implemented, DBS was able to provide a safe working environment for employees required to come into the office for critical banking services.

“Right now, the crisis may seem like the worst of times because IT folks are working hard to keep the lights on. But it’s also the best of times because it has brought forth the value of technology and the investments we’ve made to modernize our technology stack,” said Jimmy Ng, CIO and head of technology and operations at DBS.

As a result of the pandemic, DBS is exploring new business continuity innovations. Gupta believes 5G will make it easier to work from home. It also offers new customer value by extending relevant banking services, like mobile ATMs, to more locations quickly.

We have to become a prediction machine. We are invested heavily in converting DBS into a data-driven operation. It means reimagining the online infrastructure, the way we engage with customers and the roles of our people.

Piyush Gupta, CEO, DBS

When DBS recognized the need to make the switch from legacy systems to an updated infrastructure, they didn’t want to lose their existing talent pool. Instead, they invested in programs for employees to “re-skill” themselves and learn how to operate the new systems. DBS also decided to bring more of its technology talent in-house and create its own core competencies. This came in the form of building a “development shop” specifically for DBS talent.

“DBS is committed to doing our part to build a strong pipeline of talent in Singapore equipped with the right skills for the new digital economy,” said Ng. The financial institution will complement training with hands-on experience in managing DBS’ private cloud, from engineering a resilient active-active cloud platform to automating cloud operations at scale.

Cloud skills are highly relevant as DBS powers ahead with their digital transformation journey and contribute to Singapore’s aspiration to be a Smart Nation. In 2019, the bank was named World’s Best Digital Bank by Euromoney for its industry leadership in leveraging digital technology to shape the future of banking – one of four global Best Bank accolades DBS has been awarded since 2018.

“We continuously innovate to better serve the nation. Towards this end, we always explore ways to continue providing robust cloud infrastructure for our business needs,” said Gupta.

Getting Future Ready

Organizations like DBS continue to adapt, respond, and accelerate their business in this new digital paradigm. On this journey, it’s imperative to upskill the workforce and train a new generation of tech talent.

As part of its commitment to support Asia’s digital ecosystem, VMware announced its “Getting Future Ready” initiative. In partnership with Singapore-based companies, including DBS, the initiative will deepen the country’s expertise and specialization in next-generation technologies. Conducted in-person and online, the program provides trainees with the opportunity to learn and engage with industry specialists through hackathons, hands-on labs, gamification, and more.

“The vibrancy and strength of Singapore’s innovation economy, along with its deep pool of tech talent, serve as a powerful testament to the country’s Smart Nation ambitions,” said Adrian Hia, country manager, VMware Singapore.

VMware and DBS Executive Conversation at VMworld 2020.

Join VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger and DBS Group CEO Piyush Gupta as they discuss the current business climate, including the growth opportunities of shifting to run like an agile tech company and the partnership between the two organizations allowing for innovation to thrive.