Digital Transformation

June 2016, by Awaken Group

How can organizations remain relevant in today’s age of accelerating digital transformation?


We held an AwakenFutures x Gnowbe event on 16 June 2016 in Singapore with special guest speaker Laurence Smith, who shared his experience of leading DBS Bank’s digital transformation as their Chief Talent & Development Officer (CTDO). This intimate session gave us insights into why digital transformation is more about mindsets rather than simply about technology.


It was a chance for attendees from various industries (e.g., financial services, education, real estate, consumer goods) to pick the brains of one of the top minds in pioneering digital transformation in Asia and apply the practices into their own organizations.

Insights shared ranged from the future outlook of banks vs FinTechs, to innovative principles behind the DBS Megathon. Some of the insights included:

  • Digital disruption is not about the technology—but rather, the ability to embrace innovation, understand it, and adopt start-up mentalities to test ideas (e.g., embed lean start-up methodologies into the culture)
  • Banks need to take FinTechs seriously; ~30% of bank revenues will disappear by 2020 due to FinTechs
  • How can we change our attitudes from denial or despair, to awareness of opportunities?
  • People need the space to experiment in safe environments
  • Top management needs to see beyond bottom-line growth and look for mindset shifts in innovation and risk-taking
  • One way that large companies can experiment in more safe environments is to set aside specific budgets for training for validated learning that include:
    • Solving real organizational challenges
    • Creating teams with a mix of internal people plus external start-ups to combine diverse experiences and perspectives
    • Giving people the freedom and space to even run their own hackathons
  • As individuals, don’t ask for permission to try new things; do many small experiments, create minimum viable products (MVPs)
Photo 16-6-16, 7 53 53 PM

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If you would like to attend a similar event in the future, please subscribe to our monthly newsletter in the yellow box below to stay updated or email us at to be added to our guest list.

Learn more about our partner, Gnowbe:

About Laurence Smith
Laurence Smith_bio photo
Laurence was responsible for all Learning, Leadership, & Talent development activities at DBS for 22,000 staff across 15 countries. He led a cultural initiative that has transformed the Purpose of DBS and created strong top team alignment through the implementation of Authentic Leadership. This has directly led to a re-fresh of the Bank’s strategic priorities to be centered around Culture, and Innovation in the Digital World.