Singapore bank uses cloud collaboration to promote innovation, security, productivity

Singapore-based digital bank DBS strives to epitomize the future of banking in Asia. The company sought to increase productivity and customer satisfaction by developing a digital agenda that includes cloud technology and a culture of innovation. After evaluating Microsoft Office 365—focusing on SharePoint and OneDrive for Business—DBS determined that the solution’s security measure and collaboration capabilities were ideal for increasingly paperless, branchless, and cashless banking. Microsoft FastTrack also helped ensure speedy initial deployment.

Digital agenda, superior banking

DBS is a major financial services group in Asia, with more than 280 branches across 18 markets. Headquartered in Singapore, it has a growing presence in China, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. It strives to be the bank of choice for the ever-expanding Asia economic region. As part of that mission, DBS is implementing a digital vision. “Many financial institutions have a digital agenda, but ours is more comprehensive,” explains David Gledhill, CIO of DBS. “First, we’re digitizing all the way to the core of our banking activities, then guiding our customers to embrace digital practices, and finally transforming the relationship between employees and technology to create a more productive workplace.”

Strong security, advanced cloud services

As a financial services company, DBS is heavily regulated and has strict security and privacy standards. Security is its obsession, and a move away from on-premises solutions to Microsoft Office 365 would be off the table without absolute confidence in the safety of bank information. Working with Microsoft, the DBS IT department thoroughly examined Microsoft cloud security measures as they apply to financial services. The comprehensive information in the Service Trust Portal, the positive response from Microsoft to address Singapore banking guidelines, and access to the Microsoft Financial Services Compliance Program all gave DBS confidence in its evaluation.

“Just as our government regulators have done, DBS looked at Microsoft tools, practices, encryption—a whole raft of technologies,” says Gledhill. “We determined that Office 365 and other Microsoft cloud services offer the richest collaboration platform and deepest security.” Expanding on that theme, he adds, “We believe the Microsoft cloud is more secure than anything a traditional bank could implement. DBS gains consistent vigilance, technology experts that no bank could likely retain, and constant security reinvestment.” On a more personal level, he says, “Deploying the Microsoft solutions has helped me sleep at night. I know they’re going to work, be safe, and provide strong security—everything that matters most to me.”

Fast deployment, immediate popularity

After DBS approved Office 365, the bank took advantage of Microsoft FastTrack during the first phase of deployment. FastTrack is the customer success service that helps organizations get up to speed faster with Microsoft cloud solutions. Specifically, the FastTrack team oversaw switching thousands of the bank’s email accounts to Microsoft Exchange Online and installing Office 365 ProPlus. It educated DBS in IT best practices and provided tools, resources, and Microsoft experts to assist with initial technical and logistical issues. This was especially helpful because after the pilot, the bank planned a rollout of all Office 365 solutions and workloads at once rather than one at a time.

Employee groups adopted Office 365 services without hesitation. For example, says Gledhill, “We committed to OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online right away. They demonstrated incredibly deep functionality. We were simply blown away by the consistency, execution, and level of thinking that went into their design.”

Effective collaboration across groups

DBS also expects to take advantage of OneDrive for Business with external vendors and clients as soon as the bank establishes policies and procedures for its use. “The ability to connect directly to financers and customers—to get to the heart of working with them and making critical information readily available to them—will make our jobs easier,” says James Chong, Senior Vice President for Credit and Unsecured Lending at DBS.

Chong adds that SharePoint Online is an ideal repository for managing workflow and file versions. “By following a few simple guidelines for checking out, editing, and saving documents, employees no longer have to worry about version control or tracking issues caused by emailing files,” he says. Additionally, he notes that with real-time coauthoring capabilities, all authors benefit from each other’s insight and expertise while a document is created, which is a more productive use of their time than having multiple document reviews in succession.

Productive conversations

DBS also uses Yammer and Skype for Business Online to promote more effective communication and collaboration among employees. “Yammer gives us a place to discuss ideas and issues companywide or at the group level. It empowers our teams and encourages thoughtful conversation,” says Chong. As for Skype for Business Online, he adds that the screen sharing feature is especially useful. “It’s marvelous, and much easier to show my regional teams a time-saving way to communicate.” He notes that the same screen-sharing benefit can extend to overseas conversations so that international teams can work more effectively.

Mobile access, higher productivity

DBS encourages employees to use mobile phones as much as possible in their day-to-day work. With Office 365, that practice is now proving to be especially helpful for improving productivity. “Mobility is all about not being encumbered by desks or laptops, and OneDrive is critical for maximizing that ability more securely,” says Chong.

Gledhill adds that the ability to share and access files from any compatible device benefits the whole bank, not just those who travel. “We’ve enabled mobility features knowing that mobile devices will pervade the organization, and we’ll pay for employees’ calling plans to make it cheap for them.” Amplifying this point, he adds, “We’re taking away the barriers to digital that have traditionally slowed us down. It’s another differentiator of DBS.”

Digital culture, innovative thinking

DBS is promoting a change in corporate culture to further its digital agenda. The bank wants to use technology to help individual employees and teams provide better service to customers. Office 365 is a vehicle that drives this transformation. Says Gledhill, “We see technology itself as a competitive advantage, and we’ve been pushing this philosophy very hard for four years. We know we’ve got the recipe right—we just need to keep cooking and baking.”

Chong explains that the ability to share information in the cloud means that employees won’t have to worry about whether a colleague is able to access their ideas expressed in a particular file. “The result is more efficiency and peace of mind,” he says. “Employees should not have to focus on where they are but rather on the data they need, on innovation. With tools like SharePoint and OneDrive, we’re now propelled by content.”

Taking these ideas a step further, Gledhill concludes, “By digitizing deeply, DBS sparks innovative thinking that leads to innovative products. The most successful digital products bring joy to people. We’re using our digital agenda to make banking joyful.”

We believe the Microsoft cloud is more secure than anything a traditional bank could implement. DBS gains consistent vigilance, technology experts that no bank could likely retain, and constant security reinvestment.
David Gledhill, CIO DBS



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