Singapore banks make big investment in staff digital transformation

Programme over 5 years to train 10,000 to be skilled in new tech

The DBS Asia X centre, its latest innovation facility for employees to come together, design and develop digital customer solutions, working closely with start-ups and the broader FinTech community. PHOTO: DBS

DBS Bank announced yesterday it is investing $20 million over the next five years in a broad-based programme to train its 10,000 Singapore-based employees in digital banking and emerging technologies.

Singapore's biggest bank said the move supports Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's call at Sunday's National Day Rally to do more to make Singapore a Smart Nation.

DBS said its programme supports the Monetary Authority of Singapore's vision to create a Smart Financial Centre where technology is used pervasively in the financial industry to increase efficiency, create opportunities, better manage risks, and improve lives.

The programme is designed to encourage large-scale participation and digital adoption by all bank staff, and comprises several aspects:

•Artificial intelligence-powered e-learning, which can be accessed 24/7

•Experiential learning, such as intrapreneur programmes and hackathons

•Grants and scholarships

•Innovative learning spaces

In the area of artificial intelligence-powered e-learning for example, DBS said it has launched a new cloud-based learning management system called DBS Horizon.

It uses artificial intelligence to make personalised course recommendations, and help staff collaborate, create communities of interest, and engage in mobile education any time, anywhere across the bank.

DBS employees are given the opportunity to go on paid sabbaticals to work on prototypes and start their own businesses. The bank also runs accelerator programmes which provide mentorship and funding to help these intrapreneurs grow their concepts into prototypes.

In addition, more than 2,000 DBS staff have participated in human centred design workshops and hackathons, and conducted more than 1,000 experiments since 2015.

DBS Bank's group head of human resources Lee Yan Hong said: "As the financial sector evolves, the profile of jobs will change and we are committed to helping our people adapt and embrace digital transformation through innovative and immersive continuous learning programmes.

The bank also offers scholarships to employees to further their skills in emerging technologies such as data and analytics, design thinking, and automation.

Similar moves are under way at the other local banks. OCBC Bank's head of human resource planing Jacinta Low said it has invested in areas that cover digital and fintech learning. Last year for example, the bank launched the Life Refresh@OCBC which aims to equip employees aged over 50 with such skill.

United Overseas Bank held a 2020 Ideas Contest last year to encourage employees to submit innovative ideas on how the bank can harness technology to provide a better customer experience.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2017, with the headline Singapore banks make big investment in staff digital transformation. Subscribe