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DBS Bank teams up with AWS on AI skills

Singapore’s DBS Bank is organising an AWS DeepRacer League to equip thousands of employees with skills in artificial intelligence and machine learning

Singapore’s DBS Bank has teamed up with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to equip at least 3,000 employees, including its senior leadership, with skills in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) by the end of 2020.

Through the DBS x AWS DeepRacer League, participants will pick up ML coding skills to programme their own AWS DeepRacer autonomous vehicles. Their ML models will then be uploaded onto a virtual racing environment where employees can experiment and fine-tune their models as they engage each other in friendly competition.

AWS DeepRacer vehicles are cloud-based, fully autonomous 1/18th scale race cars that are built using Amazon Sagemaker and powered by reinforcement learning – an advanced ML technique that is ideally suited to autonomous driving.

The DBS x AWS DeepRacer League will be run completely online, from classroom to racetrack, as part of DBS’s drive to ingrain digital learning behaviours among employees.

This comes on the back of DBS’s efforts to scale up its digital learning tools and platforms to enable its employees to upgrade their skills and pick up new knowledge even when they are not physically in the office.

“As a technology company that provides banking services, we are keenly aware of the need to stay ahead of the technology curve to continue exceeding our customers’ expectations,” said Paul Cobban, chief data and transformation officer at DBS.

“We have never believed in limiting digital expertise to a small team. Instead, we passionately believe in democratising technology skillsets among all employees, so that they can run alongside the company as we advance on our digital transformation together.

“Additionally, we wanted to adopt a different approach from our previous digital and data skills revolutions. In line with our ethos of keeping work and learning fun, we sought to introduce gamification elements to better engage our employees, and the AWS DeepRacer League platform presented the perfect opportunity.”

Other AWS DeepRacer Leagues have been organised before, including the recent F1 ProAm virtual event that saw DBS’s executive director of technology, Ray Goh, beat other F1 professionals to emerge global champion.

Another four DBS employees were placed in the global top 20, and a total of six employees have qualified for the AWS DeepRacer Championship Cup to be held in Las Vegas at the close of the year.

Goh said: “When I first got involved with the AWS DeepRacer on my own last year, it was to satisfy my own hunger to learn more about AI and ML. I wanted to challenge myself by participating in the AWS DeepRacer League, but I certainly did not expect to come this far.

“I’m delighted to be able to do Singapore and DBS proud, and more importantly, to inspire my colleagues to join me in developing a deeper level of mastery in AI and ML, which are both important skills for the bank and the digital economy.”

DBS is now gearing up for the next stage of its digital transformation efforts that started more than a decade ago as it continues to experiment with emerging technologies.

In 2019, its digitalised and simplified end-to-end credit processing, setting the foundation for advanced credit risk management using data analytics and ML. It has also deployed an AI-powered engine to provide accurate self-service digital options to its retail customers based on their digital footprint.

Read more about digital transformation at DBS Bank

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