AWS Startups Blog

The DBS Paradigm Shift Global Hack Brings Together the Brightest and Craziest

Guest post by Fern Tham, Innovation Catalyst, DBS Bank

Hackathons challenge us to question our norms and assumptions, as well encourage us to break boundaries and change the status quo. That is why DBS Bank, a Singapore-based multinational bank, has been running and sponsoring over 50 hackathons across Asia over the past five years, bringing together the brightest minds to brainstorm new banking solutions for modern-day problems. Building on this tradition, DBS recently announced it will hold its first ever global hackathon—the DBS Paradigm Shift Global Hack—from May 28 to September 22; registration is open here.

To help explain DBS’s decision to host such a large event, we gathered the organizers in a chatgroup: Siew Choo Soh, Head of Consumer Banking and Big Data/AI Technology, Bidyut Dumra, Head of Innovation, and Royce Teo, Head of Data Management. We asked them about why they want to engage with the world, what they expect to see from this hackathon, and how participants can stand out.

Left to right: Royce Teo (Group Head, DBS Data Management), Siew Choo Soh (Group Head, DBS Consumer Banking and Big Data/AI Technology), Bidyut Dumra (Head of Innovation, DBS)

How exactly did the idea of a global hackathon come about?

Siew Choo: We were looking to crowdsource ideas to transform banking, and during a chat between Bidyut and I, we talked about the success of one of our earlier hackathons, Hack2Hire, and how we did not want to create a similar-type of event but expand it into something much, much bigger!

Bidyut Durma: Exactly! And we also constantly hear people suggest how a bank should do this or change that. Well, with the DBS Global Hackathon comes their speak-up-or-shut-up opportunity!

Royce Teo: DBS is always looking to scale solutions for our customers, and in order to do that, we have to spot talent globally, and propagate our culture of innovation—and the fact that innovation is not a project but a way for us here at DBS!

SC: We believe that true innovation and creativity come alive when you have people from diverse cultures, experiences and industries come together—and hence the word ‘global’ in our hackathon! 😀🌠

What do you look out for at a hackathon? DBS has hired hundreds of participants across their numerous hackathons. How does one stand out from among the talented crowd? 

BD: I’ll tell you my ABCDE of the people I look out for. They have to be Ambitious and dream big, Brave enough to chase their dreams, Curious about how things tick, Do more than they talk, and be Excited about life in general. To be honest, I debated if the C should be for Crazy because those are the people that really change the world.

RT: To me, they have to be enterprising, creative, forward-looking, self-motivated and authentic people who want to make a ground-breaking and positive difference in the lives of other people 👊.

SC: And it is not just bankers we’re looking out for. Academics, entrepreneurs, architects; we are also looking for anyone who has a big dream about how we can revolutionise banking can join us in this challenge to create the bank of the future!

For instance, for us to be customer obsessed and hyper-personalise our solutions, we need to have a deep understanding of our customers’ behaviour. Here, behavioural scientists can enable us to go deeper into the analysis of psychology to truly tailor experiences to individual preferences.

BD: I’m hoping there will be a paradigm shift not only in the ideas that come through but also how the company meshes with the mechanics of the community to herald a new era of co-creation. Let the walls between a company and its customers come down! I think different banks will have walls made of different materials, and the bank that will win will have their wall made of sea salt and lemon tarts <pie emoticon>, fundamentally changing the wall’s purpose to attract rather than block!

RT: I want to see participants leverage on data, which in the near term can be very powerful to solve deep but narrow problems. Teams might not have a full stack to present as their solution, but the data part must be well thought out. At the end of the day, a strong motivation for coming up with practical implementations is essential!

Tell us about the importance of Amazon Web Services (AWS) in this Paradigm Shift Global Hackathon.

SC: AWS has been and continues to be our trusted platform in many of our innovative projects, and the Global Paradigm Shift is another such project we are proud to be partnered with them.

RT: Access to the public cloud makes a wide plethora of data products immediately available to us. The scalability of compute power and storage allows us a lot more headroom to flex our ambitions, allowing us to progress our platform for hyper-personalisation. Given AWS’s track record, they are naturally a trusted partner for Global Paradigm Shift and beyond!

Do you have any last words?

RT: Driven by borderless digitalisation, Asia is seeing the highest rate of economic growth globally. There is no better time to stretch one’s creativity and visibly see it make an impact, and I’m excited for what our participants will come up with at this Hackathon to better enable us to be the BANK FOR THE FUTURE!

SC: Apart from making DBS the bank for the future, we also hope that our participants, our partners and DBS employees would have a great interactive and learning experience. We want to create a lasting and unique experience at the DBS Global Hackathon for everyone involved, and we cannot wait to show you want we have lined up!

BD: I’ll just add on one last thing – Let’s build this thing together, I say! To infinity and beyond! 🚀

Find out more about the DBS Paradigm Shift Global Hack here.