As part of United Overseas Bank’s (UOB) ongoing innovation drive, the Bank focuses on creating a distinctive and seamless omni-channel experience for its customers across ASEAN. Enabling this is the Bank’s information technology (IT) infrastructure and team of experienced technologists in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics and cloud computing.
As a managing director at UOB’s Group Technology and Operations, Albert Kho leads his team in strategic projects for the Bank’s Group Retail and Channels functions. “Our focus at UOB is always to provide our customers with a seamless and secure banking experience across all online and offline touchpoints, enabled by technology,” Kho said.
Accelerating the next phase of UOB’s innovation drive
UOB’s standardised IT platform enables the Bank to innovate, to develop and to launch new solutions at scale across its regional network. This underpins UOB’s strength as an Asian bank and has led to the launch of several market-first innovations to meet its customers’ lifestyle and financial needs better.
For example, UOB was the first Singapore bank to launch a purpose-built digital wealth advisory platform known as the UOB Portfolio Advisory Tools (PAT) in 2019 to enhance the way in which the Bank’s wealth advisers guide customers to meet their wealth goals. PAT enables UOB wealth advisers to draw insights from historical market data to simulate performance against various economic scenarios and to advise customers better with data visualisation models of each customer’s wealth portfolio including insurance. Tapping its regional IT platform, the Bank plans to launch PAT across its other regional markets rapidly.
The Bank has been continually enhancing its all-in-one mobile banking app UOB Mighty over the years to enable customers to bank, to pay and to enjoy rewards and benefits according to their preferences. Last year, the Bank launched Mighty Insights, an industry-first AI-driven service on UOB Mighty that helps customers to manage their finances better, and is rolling it out across its regional markets. This initiative leveraged capabilities pioneered by UOB’s digital bank initiative TMRW which launched in Thailand in 2019. TMRW has since launched in Indonesia and has been a leader in several digital-first capabilities including a fully integrated digital service model that combines biometrics, chat, video, and voice technology to onboard and to serve customers.
In addition to using technology to transform the banking experience for customers, Kho’s team is also developing new solutions to support the Bank in driving performance. For instance, his team is designing and building an integrated data platform to enhance the way in which the retail banking team draws real-time insights to develop products and services that meets its customers’ changing needs and preferences.
Growing and developing a pipeline of technologists at UOB
To support the its innovation drive, the Bank focuses on growing and developing a pipeline of talent in his teams across different seniority levels and roles. “We take a prudent and strategic approach to grow our teams as it is imperative to continue investing in technology and talent throughout economic cycles,” he said.
For example, the Bank is growing its team of technologists in roles such as programme managers, business analysts, architects, and developers. “At UOB, every business function is enabled by specific technological domain expertise. For instance, agile development experience is very important in supporting our digital initiatives like TMRW and UOB Mighty. At the same time, we also hired business analysts with deep product and system knowledge to support our wealth management business,” Kho said.
Across UOB, the technology team collaborates closely with the Bank’s various business and support functions. Over the years, the Bank has enabled agile working throughout the organisation by setting up cross-functional teams and equipping them with dedicated programmes and tools for collaboration.
“Our IT infrastructure and the digital tools which we invested in over the years have enabled our cross-functional teams to collaborate virtually and to stay productive while working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the start of this year, our colleagues across our network have spent more than 125,000 hours collaborating online on video and audio meetings through Microsoft Teams.” Kho said.
Building a diverse workforce at UOB
UOB is committed to growing a team of talent with diverse strengths, experiences and capabilities who share the Bank’s vision and values. When Kho hires for any of his teams, he considers candidates from both the banking sector as well as those from different industries who possess the right technical skills.
“We’re always looking for people who bring new ideas and experiences to the table,” Kho said. “There’s now a convergence among different sectors when it comes to technology. Talents from telecom companies, fintechs and other firms with best-in-class tech platforms have diverse knowledge and experiences that enables us to foster innovative thinking to solve business challenges,” he added.
As the Bank continues to deepen its presence across ASEAN, tech professionals who join UOB will play a pivotal role in driving innovation across the region.
“Candidates like the strength of UOB’s network in ASEAN and the fact that technology is so aligned to our growth expansion in the region. We believe that the culture of innovation at UOB make us a unique and attractive place for talents in Singapore,” Kho said. “COVID-19 has changed the way businesses operate and customers consume. This digital shift is exciting for us as technologists within the Bank as we collaborate with our business partners to develop and to pioneer new solutions, services and models to meet our customers’ changing needs.”