Building Engines of Innovation

Neal Cross, Managing Director & Chief Innovation Officer, DBS Bank provided the Opening Keynote Presentation on, “Building Engines of Innovation” at the FSI Leaders Summit. This presentation focused on how DBS is fundamentally evolving the culture of the organization to deliver large-scale repeatable innovation inside and outside of the bank.

Neal opened this presentation by speaking on the innovation focus at DBS Bank. “We’re pretty aggressive on innovation,” he said, highlighting the 3 month sabbatical that DBS offers to its employees in order to explore innovation.

DBS has been innovating the way it does banking, with the understanding that the way in which customers live, work and bank is changing dramatically. The drive to be at the forefront of this change was set in motion in 2010 by CEO Piyush Gupta, and the bank’s innovation efforts today are anchored around three big ideas:

• An increased focus on digitisation to further enhance efficiency
• Making the customer experience more interactive and intuitive
• Analytics and the use of Big Data, both structured and unstructured

More recently, DBS has rolled out a number of trailblazing initiatives. This year, the bank reached a major milestone in its innovation journey, moving into the R&D and ideation space via a partnership with A*STAR’s Institute of Infocomm Research in Singapore. The two have set up a joint lab driving innovation through research and experimentation. DBS has also announced an agreement with IBM to tap into Watson’s capabilities to harness Big Data so as to provide more precise, customised and quality actionable insights that meet its customers’ needs.

With financial institutions seeing increasing threat and competition from non-traditional players, and digitisation making it possible for new players to encroach on banks’ traditional field of business, DBS recently announced that it will be investing SGD 200 million over the next three years to up the ante in digital banking. Apart from integrating banking into customers’ digital lifestyles, the initiative also aims to leverage technologies to reach large retail markets with a growing digitally savvy group of consumers.

Neil CrossNeal is responsible for driving the bank’s innovation agenda across its key axes of growth, namely, Greater China, Southeast Asia and South Asia; working with internal stakeholders and external collaborators, he will chart a next-phase innovation roadmap for DBS to enhance customer experience and better engage the bank’s customers in the digital landscape.