Businesses are like superheroes, and choosing the right superpower can help make or break our business.
Emerging technologies such as blockchain, APIs, cloud, big data, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) might entice us to quickly jump onboard the tech bandwagon, but it’s important for us not to blindly tinker with them just because it’s the “flavour of the month”.
“Which technology to pick should be driven by what business problem you are trying to solve and guided by vision and strategy,” said Paul Cobban, DBS Bank’s chief data and transformation officer, in a commentary piece on Channel NewsAsia.
At DBS, their focus is to “integrate banking into people’s lives”, he added.
But Cobban remarked that they “still have a long way to go”, and achieving this goal would probably require roping in the “entire squad of technology superheroes.”
“The magic of APIs is going to help us integrate into ecosystems. Biometrics will help solve the authentication challenge. IoT will allow payment between objects, and robots are going to automate operations to drive efficiencies. All these technologies are young and their superpowers are still developing,” he said.
“However, there is one superhero who is quietly delivering outcomes, and that is Big Data along with his sidekick Analytics, which includes machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).”
Here’s how these two ‘superpower’ technologies are helping the bank to better serve customer needs:
1. Forecasting The Future
DBS uses machine learning in various ways. For instance, it can tell when a relationship manager is going to resign and that individual’s potential poaching of clients.
It also allows them to predict when their ATM is going to suffer an outage.
“This is important as we have one of the busiest ATM network in the world and we take downtime very seriously. Our audit team can also predict which branch will likely have the next operational issue,” said Cobban.
Additionally, machine learning also gives them the power to predict branch and ATM queues, as well as the sales performance of employees.
2. Catching The Bad Guys
Machine learning helps to keep the bad guys in check, and the bank leverages data to “detect rogue traders and fraudsters in the procurement and trade areas.”
It is also used on video files to monitor the IT guys who have access to their production systems.
3. Making Them All-Knowing
Cobban claims that DBS is an “early adopter” of IBM Watson, and this AI platform has been widely used to successfully analyse the vast quantity of research material available to make investment recommendations.
4. Transcending Borders And Languages
Last year, DBS launched Digibank, a mobile-only bank in India.
It partnered with startup Kasisto to develop a chatbot that has the ability to respond to 80 per cent of customer queries on its own in a local language.
5. Giving Them X-Ray Vision
It’s not x-ray vision per se, but banks do have a pretty good insight of their customers as they are armed with knowledge of their age, gender, financial standing, address, workplace, and salary.
Banks also “know what you spend your money on, where you go on vacation, your favourite restaurants, and what you do in your spare time,” revealed Cobban.
Indeed, such data is powerful and have to be handled responsibly. Sure, it can help enhance customer experiences, but on the flip side, it can also make banking disappear, he warned.
Lessons To Learn
That’s DBS’ big data and analytics journey so far. So how can you embark on this journey as well?
First, begin with a question in mind. “Unless you are clear about what problem you are trying to solve, you run the risk of running round in circles. Simply wallowing around in the data does not work. We tried it, don’t do it.”
Second, start with your own data. There’s a barrage of data out there, so just focus on the internal data first so it’s easier for you to digest and work with.
Third, don’t work alone and partner with the right people. DBS for instance, has worked with companies such as IBM, Kasisto and A*STAR. “We started with very limited capability, as talent is hard to come by. But each partner helped us accelerate our learning curve and yield results.
Fourth, design for your products with data in mind. Ask this: what data should be generated from this product/service? Then design accordingly.
Lastly, just fly with it!
Cobban noted that there are plenty of untapped opportunities everywhere – be it in banking or other sectors. “It’s time to just plunge into it and save the planet.”
Featured Image Credit: DealStreet Asia