DevOps within Singapore’s Banking and Finance Industry

The dynamics of banking in Singapore have transformed rapidly with increasing demands for better and improved services. With the constant struggle in retaining customers, digitisation and adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) within banks have helped to ease this pressure in meeting customer demands whilst remaining competitive.

This has proved to be a challenge as banks have in the recent years, face ‘disruptors’ within the sector including agile, cloud-powered, data driven and customer focused start-ups and digital wallet companies. These ‘disruptors’ are able to offer tailored solutions, supported by attractive, easy-to-use mobile applications that can destabilise the loyalty of a bank’s customer base.

Hence, traditional banks realise the need to keep up with this pace of change yet meet their compliance mandates around security and data sovereignty. This has translated to a call for banks to look into the adoption of smart software – DevOps.

What is DevOps a solution for?

1. Easier adoption and integration of the Cloud

While concerns around security and compliance are still limiting banks from harnessing the complete potential of cloud services, many are moving their non-core banking applications to this new computing paradigm. DevOps allows banks to enjoy the advantages of agility and scalability, yet at the same time improving their customer experience across multiple channels. More importantly, banks will now gain the ability to make use of learned insights from data to build customer friendly mobile applications amongst many others.

The ability to prioritise working software over documentation, frequent deliverables, face-to-face collaboration, and a focus on technical excellence and automation form the foundation of DevOps. It allows financial services providers to take greater advantage of cloud platforms for data intelligence and analytics by using cloud storage services to build test platforms in the Cloud. DevOps facilitates this by generating ways to simplify and streamline acceptance testing alongside security and compliance reviews; dependency analysis and packaging; release management and deployment.

2. Persistent lack of data scientists

With a lack in talent pipeline for data scientists, architects and engineers, DevOps is able to mediate this through the automation of tasks that include data science and generating insights from data sets that have been largely executed by people previously.

Ali Ghodsci, co-founder and CEO of an analytics platform called Databricks says “We don’t have access to Silicon Valley engineers. We just don’t have those. There’s not enough of them. The people who make huge Silicon Valley engineer salaries over here – that’s not the rest of the world.’ So how can other companies who don’t have the resources to just pour money into hiring 10,000 data scientists – how are they going to do it?”

With large digital analytics organisations facing a shortfall in talent pool, banks too will suffer from sourcing the right DevOps engineers in the maintenance of technological processes that needs to be kept in check as demands for efficient services become a norm.

Benefits of DevOps

Adoption of DevOps practices has been a key enabler for companies that want to deliver a continual stream of new and improved applications. It reduces application delivery time and refines quality through improved productivity and efficiency. Although banks will need to ensure sustainability of its services, this can be done through proper maintenance. In addition, DevOps practices emphasise methods for more effective communication and collaboration between development, operations, testing and quality assurance teams which can value-add to any bank, gaining a strong competitive edge against international competitors.

There are strong opportunities in the FinTech sector to develop leading edge applications which truly transform a financial organisation’s methods and successes. In adopting a DevOps approach, companies will then be able to transform culture, practice and processes to achieve success.

Nonetheless, the integration of DevOps requires a shift in culture within the organisation as well as an increase in regulatory compliance to support an acceleration of internal collaboration.

DBS leading by example

DBS’s journey to become the best digital bank in the world was an arduous one, but their turning point happened when they focussed their services towards their customers.

Their definition of an ‘Asian service’ – to be respectful, easy to deal with, and dependable. This allowed them to achieve top customer satisfaction scores in Singapore.

This year, DBS is ambitious in delving into open source and microservices plans which have stemmed from a firm belief that a DevOps approach enables DBS to better serve their customers.

At M|17, MariaDB‘s first user conference, DBS Executive Director of Technology & Operations Joan Tay said:

“Our story is really about wanting a change in our application stack. We want to drive more customer excitement, but at the same time simplify our technology environment. It wasn’t easy, because there was a lot of legacy application tech we had to work with. So we needed to start to peel the onion."

Skills in demand

“A lot of companies today struggle because they have to go hire DevOps people. And DevOps people don’t grow on trees. They’re very expensive and they’re very hard to hire right now.” Says Ali Ghodsci, co-founder and CEO of an analytics platform called Databricks.

IT infrastructure isn’t limited to a system, database or network administration any more. It is common for hybrid-cloud and virtualised architectures even in banks that previously retained on-premises environments. This also meant that infrastructure specialises will also be increasingly embedded within DevOps teams. It is time to evolve towards an agile mind-set and increase your knowledge of DevOps techniques which will enable you to make a strong contribution to the team.

Singapore, being one of the most forward-looking country in the area of FinTech is now looking into the grooming of young talents to fill the gap. The National University of Singapore, School of Computing, announced a collaboration with Standard Chartered Bank in tackling talent pipeline issues within Informatics and Technology.

Adjunct Professor Foong Sew Bun, who is Standard Chartered’s Global Head, Digital Transformation (Retail, Private Banking and Wealth) who also from the Department of Information Systems at NUS Computing, will be co-delivering the “Agile IT with DevOps (IS4301)” module with faculty members from the Department.

Foong added that “Standard Chartered is delighted to partner with NUS Computing to offer a programme which will help build a pipeline of talent as well as prepare the next generation of technology leaders for a career in financial services”

As part of this partnership with the National University of Singapore (NUS) Computing, Standard Chartered will also offer internship opportunities to promising students pursuing the Information Systems and Business Analytics degree programme.

If you are interested in understanding more about the talent pipeline for DevOps, please kindly contact April Jimenez at [email protected] or follow our LinkedIn Page for more industry updates.

Sources: Economic Times, O’Reilly Media, Datanami.com, Jaxenter.com, Forbes, DBS, Efinancial, Finews Asia, Standard Chartered Bank

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