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DBS's digital transformation journey studied by Harvard Business School

Felicia Tan
Felicia Tan2/2/2023 02:55 PM GMT+08  • 2 min read
DBS's digital transformation journey studied by Harvard Business School
The secret to DBS's success was seen in its "startup" mindset. Photo: Albert Chua/The Edge Singapore
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The Harvard Business School (HBS) is the latest school to study DBS’s digital transformation journey, announced the bank on Feb 2.

The bank’s case is being taught in HBS’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme and its executive education courses by Professor Ranjay Gulati, Paul R. Lawrence MBA Class of 1942 Professor of Business Administration.

Gulati was one of the top 10 most cited scholars in Economics and Business for over a decade by ISI-Incite. He is also the author of six bestselling books on strategy, organisational effectiveness and leadership in organisations.

Other institutions that have written case studies on DBS include INSEAD, the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), IESE, Singapore Management University (SMU) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Harvard’s Gulati says, "Businesses need to transform themselves in order to compete in today's fast-changing markets. I was interested in studying how DBS transformed itself successfully, and to find out what they did and how they executed it.”

“Through my numerous conversations with the bank's executives, what came across very strongly were the digital and purpose-focused elements of the transformation and how these permeated every level of the organisation. The willingness from the leadership to resource the change enabled a building up of the workforce's innovation 'muscles' to create a startup culture – quite a feat for an organisation of 33,000 people,” he adds.

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To DBS CEO Piyush Gupta, "Behaving like a startup meant shifting the bank's mindset from that of a mature multinational to one that is more nimble, more agile; one which is constantly learning, experimenting and innovating on the fly”.

“To effect this change at scale, we had to teach our people how to use the tools of innovation and provide them with opportunities to apply these tools in an environment where it is safe to take risks. This effective culture shift created through a programme of 'culture by design' has been instrumental to our success so far, and will be key as we navigate the disruptions in our industry going ahead,” he says.

As at 2.53pm, shares in DBS are trading 84 cents lower or 2.35% down at $34.97.

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