CSR India

DBS continues to be studied as a model for digital transformation


DBS being studied as a digital transformation model

DBS is still being studied as a transformation role model, with Harvard Business School (HBS) being the most recent academic institution to publish a case study of the bank’s digital transformation journey.

Professor Ranjay Gulati, Paul R. Lawrence MBA Class of 1942 Professor of Business Administration, teaches the DBS case in HBS’ Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme and executive education courses. ISI-Incite named Gulati one of the top ten most cited scholars in Economics and Business over a decade. He is also the author of six best-selling books on strategy, organisational effectiveness, and organisational leadership1.

Gulati stated, “Businesses must transform in order to compete in today’s rapidly changing markets. I was curious to learn how DBS successfully transformed itself, as well as what they did and how they did it. The digital and purpose-focused elements of the transformation, and how they permeated every level of the organisation, came across very strongly in my numerous conversations with the bank’s executives. The willingness of the leadership to resource the change allowed for the development of the workforce’s innovation’muscles’ in order to create a startup culture – quite an accomplishment for a 33,000-person organization.”


Piyush Gupta, CEO of DBS, stated, “Behaving like a startup required the bank to shift its mindset from that of a mature multinational to that of a more nimble, agile organization that is constantly learning, experimenting, and innovating on the fly. To effect this change on a large scale, we needed to teach our people how to use innovation tools and give them opportunities to use these tools in a risk-free environment. This effective culture shift, achieved through a ‘culture by design’ programme, has been critical to our success thus far, and will be critical as we navigate the disruptions in our industry in the future.”

Gupta will also be interviewed on an episode of Gulati’s new podcast series “Deep Purpose” in December 2022. The conversation adds to the case study by summarizing the bank’s development stages, digital transformation, building a technology company, being customer-centric, and Gupta’s leadership style. The recording and transcript are both available here.

DBS was named the “World’s Best Bank” by the US-based financial publication Global Finance in 2022. This is its seventh best bank in the world award in the last five years. DBS was also the only Singapore-based company named by Fast Company as one of the Top 100 Best Workplaces for Innovators.

Case studies on DBS have also been written by INSEAD, the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), IESE, Singapore Management University, and Nanyang Technological University.