DBS: Digital Transformation to Best Bank in the World

DBS was awarded the best bank in world by three top finance awards within a 12-month period. A feat never achieved before. In 2018, it won Global Finance’s Best Bank in the World award and Euromoney’s Best Digital Bank in the World, and in 2019, it became the first bank in the world to be awarded the best bank in the world award concurrently from Euromoney, Global Finance and The Banker

The accomplishment was a result of adopting a phased strategy of digital transformation. At the start of Group CEO Piyush Gupta’s stewardship, the leadership laid out a strategy to perform at an international level, to improve the internal culture and, most importantly, to improve customer service. The strategy set the foundation for the bank to adopt digitalisation, which centred on ‘Making Banking Joyful’ for the customer. This would be achieved through three strategic initiatives. The first was to become digital to the core. The second was to be customer-obsessed by leveraging customer journeys that focused on making the bank invisible to the customer. The third component was to create a start-up culture in the company that encouraged experimentation, innovation, and calculated risk-taking.

Best practices of world-class technology giants like Google, Amazon, Netflix, Apple, LinkedIn, and Facebook were studied to support how the bank changed the way it operated and drive digital transformation throughout its core systems and processes. Technology services that were mostly outsourced were gradually insourced and employees were trained in the new required skills. The mantra, “business equals technology; technology equals business”, was adopted, with both functions responsible for the same goals. This was an important initiative to align the whole bank and to break down silos. To drive innovation and experimentation, hackathons were organised where employees would join with external coders and start-up entrepreneurs to identify and solve problems.

How did the management team at DBS translate the digital vision into strategy?  How did they inspire and motivate employees to come on board this digital transformation journey? What are the elements of a digital strategy? How can digital tools be leveraged for success? What can be replicated from the DBS transformation experience to other organisations?

The case, written by Annie Koh, Professor of Finance (Practice), Robin Speculand, a specialist in strategy and digital implementation, Adina Wong and Wee-Kiat Lim of The Centre for Management Practice (CMP), examines the inner workings of DBS’s digital transformation strategies and mechanics of becoming the world’s number-one bank. 

To read the case in full, please visit the CMP website by clicking here.