Bank Turns to Cognitive Computing and Analytics

Today’s high-tech, high-touch world is creating enormous challenges for financial institutions. The ability to make quick decisions and provide valuable investment information to customers can determine whether an institution winds up a digital leader or a laggard. In response, DBS Bank, formerly known as Development Bank of Singapore, is turning to advanced analytics to guide highly customized investment ideas for customers.

The initiative could significantly change the way the bank does business. “As a wide body of investment literature becomes directly available to … clients, relationship managers must be conversant about the latest market developments, house views, product desk calls and recommendations,” says Olivier Crespin, chief operating officer for the Consumer Banking & Wealth Management division of DBS Bank.

Crespin, who also oversees digital banking, says that relationship managers must amalgamate and apply information with a clear understanding of client needs. It’s critical to make “specific investment recommendations within narrow windows of time and opportunity,” he explains. DBS Bank, which prides itself on customer relationships and leading-edge capabilities, increasingly relies on technology to provide a competitive advantage.

The upshot? DBS Bank has turned to IBM’s Watson to ratchet up its analytics tools. “A key capability is being able to understand massive amounts of unstructured data,” Crespin says. “Cognitive computing is able to master natural language and draw deductions that are not typically possible.”

Although the technology is still evolving and maturing, DBS Bank plans to have the new analytics platform live by the end of 2014.

Portfolio counselors, product specialists, economists, data specialists and others will use the system to “shape the future of banking,” Crespin adds. Among other things, relationship managers will be able to identify high-quality investment opportunities that are more finely tuned to a customer’s needs and risk tolerance. At present, “This can be a challenge when there is an expanding array of investment opportunities and other pressing demands for time.”

The bank will roll out the project in phases over the next few years, Crespin reports. During that time, it plans to further customize its analytics capabilities and expand offerings to meet the needs of its client base. The bank also hopes to understand performance metrics and other factors in a more comprehensive way.

“We aim to incorporate data and key learning points,” he says. “Innovation is part of our DNA, and we are constantly on the lookout for better ways to serve our clients.”

Crespin sees the current business environment as one filled with opportunities for firms in financial services and other industries. “Banking is being redefined by the introduction of new technologies,” he points out. “There has been an infusion of new ideas, and the work we are doing now with cognitive computing and data analytics is only the beginning of more exciting and significant changes to the industry.

“The technology allows our relationship managers to focus on the more creative and human interaction elements of a job.”


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