DBS, SMU launch joint lab for social media analytics

Dr Steven Miller and Ms Tan Su Shan, DBS' group head of consumer banking and wealth management, signing the research lab agreement.
Dr Steven Miller and Ms Tan Su Shan, DBS' group head of consumer banking and wealth management, signing the research lab agreement.PHOTO: DBS

DBS Bank and Singapore Management University (SMU) have joined forces to operate a research lab that is trying to uncover new digital consumer trends amid social media.

The Life Analytics Lab, which opened last week, employs a team of about 10 researchers who are processing data gleaned from platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Its findings will then complement DBS' in-house customer data analysis and will help the bank come up with new digital innovations and sales leads, Mr Sameer Gupta, the bank's executive director for regional business analytics, said yesterday.

BETTER UNDERSTANDING

(The lab) will help (DBS) better understand social trends and social behaviour...and then use the understanding to create new products or improve current offerings.

DR STEVEN MILLER, dean of SMU's School of Information Systems

Dr Steven Miller, SMU's dean for the School of Information Systems, added: "(The lab) will help (DBS) better understand social trends and social behaviour ... and then use the understanding to create new products or improve current offerings."

DBS is funding the new lab but the research will be driven by the analytics capabilities SMU developed from its Living Analytics Research Centre, which was formed in 2011 through funding by the National Research Foundation.

The lab is using its software to process data reflecting activities on social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Foursquare in Singapore (see correction note). 

One avenue is to look at consumer complaints, most of which are aired across social media instead of DBS' own official channels, said Dr Miller, who was speaking at a briefing on the new lab.

Mr Gupta noted: "There are currently three or four research projects that we have earmarked for the lab, and one of them is to look for ways to expand our footprint in China. But more details will be nailed down later."

DBS' spending on the Life Analytics Lab will be a fraction of the $200 million the bank has committed to develop digital technologies over the next three years.

DBS had already set up six units either internally or through partnerships to explore digital innovations before linking up with SMU. These include an in-house human centre design lab, a joint lab with A*Star, and an innovation centre called Silicon Alley (see correction note).

Mr Gupta said DBS' efforts have provided important insights on how to improve customer experience.

"For instance, our data shows that a significant number of our customers queue up for ATMs only to check (their account) balance. There are around six million such ATM transactions monthly.

"So what we do is, every time a customer checks his balance at an ATM, just as he walks away we will message him to remind him that he can do that via SMS banking," Mr Gupta said, referring to a service that allows customers to check their account balance and the last three transactions with a text message to the bank.


CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story, it was reported that the Life Analytics Lab is using its software to process data reflecting activities on social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and 4chan in Singapore.  It should be  Foursquare, not 4chan. Also,the six units set up by DBS  to explore digital innovations before linking up with SMU include an innovation centre called Silicon Alley, not an innovation centre based in Silicon Valley, California, as reported in the earlier version. We are sorry for the errors.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2015, with the headline 'DBS, SMU launch joint lab for social media analytics'. Print Edition | Subscribe