This is part 2 of my blog on how DBS Bank set out to establish its enterprise data platform. You can find the first part here and the full session for replay (as well as all other session replays from Forrester’s APAC Financial Services Webcast Week) at (free registration required).

In the first blog, I talked about one of three aspects of DBS’ journey — the four architecture design principles for its enterprise data platform ADA, “Advancing DBS with AI.” This second blog discusses the other aspects: operational, process, and governance changes and skills building and people enablement.

Operating Model, Processes, And Governance Change The Way The Bank Works

The second aspect may well be the one that organizations struggle with the most. In my experience, technology mostly delivers and is not an inhibitor. But changing the way an organization works to leverage those new technology capabilities can be daunting. Changing the organizational structure and processes — the way people work and interact — is very much a cultural change as it is a structural change.

DBS decided on a platform-as-a-service approach for data and ML to facilitate scaling the platform rapidly throughout the bank. The ADA team then set out to:

  • Define a new operating model and processes. The ADA team architects, develops, and supports an integrated data and ML platform. Business-aligned tech teams bring the data and build the necessary business logic. Each line of business (LOB) that uses the platform brings its resources and developers to build business functionality.
  • Establish governance and clear responsibilities across stakeholders. Governance is managed by an enterprise data council. The ADA team is responsible for the technical engineering, while the Data First team (lead by the bank’s chief analytics officer) owns the governance and processes. The bank also established an analytics center of excellence.

An Expanded Skills Matrix And People Enablement Drive ADA’s Success

The final aspect I am keen to share is about skills and talent. This is about assembling the right team and the right set of skills at the outset of the journey. It is also about enabling the entire bank to make use of the technology and data for insights. The two key takeaways from ADA for me are:

  • Equip your team with a diverse set of skills and backgrounds. To infuse the ADA team with new skills and ways of thinking, DBS added data and analytics technologists from outside the banking industry. Recruits from data- and AI-based startups and tech companies brought technical expertise in state-of-the-art technologies and architectures to the team.
  • Scale the use of the platform with continuous training and user enablement. DBS designed a comprehensive training program for ADA to enable its use quickly and at scale. In addition, customer success managers work with each business. The ADA team also provides a high-touch enablement approach by pairing with LOBs for more complex use cases.

“The assimilation of nonbanking technologists into the bank has been key to our success. It has not been an easy exercise, but it is a rewarding journey, as it resulted in creativity and innovation implemented at scale with security and controls embedded at its core.”
Siew Choo Soh, group head of consumer banking and big data/AI technology, DBS Bank

Conclusion: ADA Is A Major Step On The Way To Data-Enabling DBS

Multiple LOBs have implemented strategic AI/data initiatives on the new platform to move DBS closer to being a truly data-driven bank. Currently, ADA supports initiatives including customer science, intelligent banking, financial planning, recommendations, fraud surveillance, and sales surveillance across DBS.


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Forrester clients can read the full report here: Case Study: DBS Bank Enables An Insights-Driven Organization With An Enterprise Data Platform.

If you’d like to discuss how this affects you and your organization, please don’t hesitate to schedule an inquiry call with me.

If you are a vendor or service provider and would like to be included in future research, please do schedule a briefing with me.