DBS set to rev up staff’s skills in machine learning, AI

Bank ties up with Amazon unit as it seeks to accelerate use of the tools across its business

In a bid to ingrain digital learning behaviour at the workplace, DBS Bank is teaming up with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to equip about 3,000 employees with basic skills in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning by the end of this year.

The collaboration is in line with the bank’s plans to accelerate the use of AI and machine learning across its business.

Through the jointly launched DBS x AWS DeepRacer League, employees will complete a series of hands-on online tutorials before putting their skills to the test by programming an autonomous model race car. These machine learning models will then be uploaded to a virtual racing environment where employees can experiment with and fine-tune their models while engaging in friendly competition.

The bank expects at least 3,000 employees, including its senior leadership, to learn new AI and machine learning skills through the project.

The initiative comes on the back of DBS’ efforts to scale up its digital learning tools and platforms to enable its employees to upgrade their skills and pick up new knowledge even when they are not physically in the office.

Noting the unconventional and innovative approach to upskilling its employees, DBS chief data and transformation officer Paul Cobban said the bank introduced gamification elements to better engage its employees and uphold the ethos of keeping work and learning fun.

He added: “As a technology company that provides banking services, we are keenly aware of the need to stay ahead of the technology curve to continue exceeding our customers’ expectations. 

“We have never believed in limiting digital expertise to a small team. Instead, we passionately believe in democratising technology skill sets among all employees, so that they can run alongside the company as we advance on our digital transformation together.”

Employees who show a flair for AI and machine learning are encouraged to go beyond the DBS x AWS DeepRacer League and take part in global competitions.
Since the start of its digital transformation seven years ago, DBS has invested heavily in upskilling its employees’ digital capabilities.

DBS Bank’s executive director of technology and operations Ray Goh emerged global champion in the AWS DeepRacer League F1 ProAm Event – a virtual race – in May. The DBS x AWS DeepRacer League will equip 3,000 of the bank’s staff with basic skills in artificial intelligence and machine learning. PHOTO: DBS BANK

Last year, the bank digitalised and simplified end-to-end credit processing, setting the foundation for advanced credit risk management using data analytics and machine learning.

It has also deployed an AI-powered engine to provide accurate self-service digital options to its retail customers based on their digital footprint.

Other companies that have embraced digital transformations and upskilling movements include the Pan Pacific Hotels Group, which increased the application of technology and reskilling of its employees as it relooked its organisational structure during the Covid-19 lull.

Packaging company Greenpac switched to a cloud-based supply chain management system, which allowed its staff to work from home when the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition level was raised to orange earlier this year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2020, with the headline 'DBS set to rev up staff’s skills in machine learning, AI'. Subscribe