Driving digital transformation through partnerships

Accelerating the construction industry’s digitalisation journey

Driving digital transformation through partnerships

As digitalisation continues to rapidly accelerate globally, it brings enormous opportunities and challenges. Sectors such as Information and Communications Technology (ICT), media, finance, retail and professional services are well advanced in their digital journeys and others such as construction are finding its way as it charts its digital transformation course.

Digitalisation and new technologies are everywhere but every industry has unique needs with different pain-points and different opportunities for improvement.


Digitalisation: more than just technology

Having undergone its own digital transformation journey over the past decade, DBS understands that digitalisation is more than just technology. It is about solving business problems - identifying customer frustrations and friction points and asking how technology can help drive the business forward.

DBS uses its own in-house 4-D design thinking process (Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver) methodology to work with customers to develop digital solutions, specific to their digital transformation needs.

The process has already developed and delivered several innovative solutions including a real-time payment gateway for a ride-hailing company and DBS’ own online treasury and cash management simulation platform - Treasury Prism.


Collaboration is the key to success

The key to successful digital transformation lies in collaboration and DBS is working to build a digital ecosystem, underpinned by application programming interfaces or APIs.

DBS’ recent partnership with local fintech Doxa to solution for the construction industry is a great example of how Singapore’s eco-system is coming together to advance digital transformation, industry development and alleviate current pain points. Together, DBS and Doxa have launched Singapore’s very first automated supplier procure-to-pay solution called Doxa Connex which aims to help main contractors improve cashflow management with their suppliers as well as lift productivity and efficiency. These processes may look simple on paper but in reality, are often cumbersome and fraught with missing documentation and patchy administration due to paper-based invoices and delivery orders having to change hands multiple times along the way.

In Singapore, construction accounts for more than four per cent of Gross Domestic Product, and in recent years, the industry has taken steps towards embracing technology across the value chain. However, a recent study by Autodesk and IDC[1] noted that despite this, still only two per cent of construction firms had actually automated nearly all their manual processes. The sector continues to rely heavily on manual payment processes, predominantly using paper-based cheques which is considered archaic in this digital era.

Building Singapore’s first automated supplier procure-to-pay solution was a collaborative effort underpinned by solid partnerships. After conceptualising the solution initially, DBS and Tiong Seng Group then worked with Doxa through numerous ideation workshops, using DBS’ in-house 4-D (Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver) methodology.

“The purpose of the workshops was to understand and solve the construction industry’s pain points to increase cashflow efficiency, which is the lifeblood of the industry. Doxa Connex also improves productivity and removes inefficiencies in the sector’s procurement and payment processes,” said Chew Chong Lim, Managing Director & Global Head of Real Estate, Institutional Banking, DBS.


A platform that improves cashflow and productivity

Doxa Connex digitalises and automates much of the manual procurement and payment processes and documentation and is estimated to have the potential to reduce administrative fees and processing costs of at least 50 per cent. The platform helps contractors improve cashflow management with their suppliers and lift productivity and efficiency by eliminating manual administration processes that have long plagued the industry.

As Singapore’s construction sector ramps up operations and re-starts projects following the extended circuit breaker, Doxa Connex will help streamline operations through the automatic tracking of the entire process. From an invitation to quote, all the way to procurement and delivery orders, and last-mile payments, Doxa Connex automatically tracks the process.

With Doxa Connex, industry practitioners will be freed up from tedious paper-based processes, receive payments expeditiously and seamlessly, and enjoy time savings that will enable them to shift focus towards higher-value work.


Leveraging a unique start-up perspective

A key component to the successful collaborative approach was having Doxa itself involved who brought a unique start-up perspective. Doxa related to the challenges and implications that delayed payments brought to companies and was able to provide its insights as it worked with DBS and Tiong Seng to develop an authentic and much needed digital solution.

Digital transformation was a key driver of every sector prior to the pandemic but the challenges and constraints COVID-19 has bought to the world has highlighted the need for digitalisation to be at the forefront of industry development.

“Covid-19 has accelerated the need for many industries to turn to digital solutions to continue operating safely even amid manpower constraints, and the construction sector is no exception. Proactive and timely digital transformation will put construction companies in good stead for recovery and growth when economic activity picks up and demand for construction services resumes.” Chew said.


Digitalise to emerge stronger

The Singaporean construction industry has shown great resilience as it recovers and emerges stronger from the pandemic highlighting the importance for business leaders to continuously explore, engage and extend digitalisation tools.

“The construction industry is facing a pivotal moment, buffeted by strong headwinds. However, these are seasoned and practical businessmen who have weathered many storms and I’m sure that if they banded together to tackle cashflow challenges, re-deploy and train their valuable resources to higher value work, the industry as a whole will be able to ride out this difficult season. For that to happen, digitalisation will be the key. Solutions like Doxa Connex is a good step in the right direction and mirrors our continuous efforts to promote the adoption of digital solutions and technology amongst our various industry members.” said Janet Ang, Chairman of Singapore Business Federation’s Digitalisation Committee (SBF DC).

DBS looks forward to further championing collaboration through innovative partnerships and a thriving eco-system as we continue to move forward to the digitalisation of payments across several sectors.

Find out more about DBS’ comprehensive solutions in the Real Estate space here.


[1]Source – Autodesk & IDC, May 2020