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Singapore bank moves closer to the cloud with Office 365 adoption

DBS says Microsoft productivity tools will help its staff become more responsive to customer needs

Singapore’s DBS bank is piloting Microsoft’s Office 365 with about 1,000 employees, making it the first Singapore bank to do so.

DBS believes the productivity tools will help its staff become more responsive to customer needs. It plans to shift its entire workforce of 22,000, across 18 markets, to Office 365 within a year.

Office 365, which includes access to Microsoft Office applications and other productivity services that are enabled through the cloud, allows users to work collaboratively from anywhere, across PCs, tablets and smartphones. Meetings can be conducted through Skype for Business, and enterprise social network Yammer can be used to collaborate across departments and locations.

The project is part of the bank’s move to empower its staff with financial technology, said David Gledhill, DBS’s head of technology and operations.

“In the last few years, we have made good headway in creating a ‘fintech-like’ workforce that is focused on making the customer experience simpler and more seamless,” he said. “[Instilling] a digital mindset in our people aside, it is also important to give them work tools that break down silos, enhance collaboration, foster greater efficiency and facilitate working on the go.”

IDC expects a significant increase in implementation of hybrid cloud architectures by financial services institutions (FSIs) in the Asia-Pacific region over the next two years.

“Asia-Pacific super-regional institutions, like DBS, will set the pace,” said Michael Araneta, associate vice-president, IDC Financial Insights Asia-Pacific. “At least 80% of these FSIs will run on a hybrid cloud architecture by 2018. These large players will clear the way for their peers and will set best practices in the location, control, ownership and management of data in the cloud.”

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Ho Sui-Jon, analyst at IDC Financial Insights Asia-Pacific, said regulatory restrictions have so far limited much of the Asean financial sector’s forays into cloud-enabled workplaces to the insurance sector and non-bank FSIs.

Tier 1 financial institutions view financial technology as a way to level the technological playing field, as the age and sprawl of their IT and business processes have hindered their ability to compete as efficiently and agilely as newer enterprises, he said.

DBS has invested in other customer-focused technology initiatives in the past five years. For example, Singapore customers can log on to digibank, a mobile app, using fingerprint and check their account balance with one swipe. And in April, DBS launched India’s first mobile-only bank, which is branchless, paperless and signatureless, based on technologies including biometrics and artificial intelligence.

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