Unlocking the Future: SCBX’s 6 Transformative Lessons on the Road to an AI-First Organization

: Unlocking the Future: SCBX’s 6 Transformative Lessons on the Road to an AI-First Organization

Unlocking the Future: SCBX’s 6 Transformative Lessons on the Road to an AI-First Organization

Dr. Arak Sutivong, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of SCB X Public Company Limited, or SCBX, articulates the profound impact of AI at THE STANDARD ECONOMIC FORUM 2023.

In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, SCBX, a trailblazing financial technology group, charts its course towards becoming a regional player with a resolute commitment to being an AI-first Organization. Driven by the vision of creating sustainable advantages for the organization, SCBX is not just embracing AI; it is shaping the future of financial technology through a strategic and impactful transformation.

AI transcends mere data and technology—it embodies a transformative force that goes beyond the conventional. 

Dr. Arak Sutivong, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of SCB X Public Company Limited, or SCBX

Dr. Arak Sutivong, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of SCB X Public Company Limited, or SCBX, articulates the profound impact of AI at THE STANDARD ECONOMIC FORUM 2023. Under his keynote speech titled SCBX AI Journey: Successes, Setbacks and Everything in Between, he said that as AI became an integral part of SCBX, questions surfaced regarding its role in shaping business dynamics.

Dr. Arak emphasizes the strategic leverage of AI to propel business growth and drive economic advancement in Thailand. Laying out the blueprint for an AI-first Organization, Dr. Arak envisions a future where 75% of SCBX’s operations will be powered by AI.

Slide 5-6 years ago, predating SCBX's

Despite the recent articulation of this vision by the SCBX leadership, the groundwork for this transformative journey began during the era when Siam Commercial Bank served as the parent company, approximately 5-6 years ago, predating SCBX’s current role as the group’s parent company. In those initial stages, the organization introspected, questioning whether AI’s essence solely rested on data.

Consequently, a significant investment was made in creating a data lake, a venture that involves substantial financial resources to centralize all data in one repository, was undertaken with the optimistic anticipation that positive outcomes would naturally follow once the data storage was complete. However, the unfolding reality revealed that, even after the passage of 1 year, 2 years, and 3 years, the anticipated positive transformations did not materialize. The data existed but remained underutilized, rendering the data lake merely a storage facility rather than a catalyst for positive change.

Unveiling SCBX’s Blueprint for the Transformation Journey towards an AI-First Organization

Recognizing that steering an organization towards lasting resilience in the age of AI is a pivotal undertaking, SCBX acknowledges that merely relying on extensive data is insufficient. To address this, SCBX is introducing a strategic initiative to propel the organization towards an AI-first paradigm, anchored in two fundamental pillars:

  • Broad AI Adoption: Unleashing the potential of AI to amplify productivity and efficiency in operational realms. Whether streamlining tasks with fewer resources or expediting processes, the focus is on orchestrating technology at a macro level to concurrently and diversely accomplish multiple tasks.
  • Deep AI Development: This entails cultivating a competitive edge by strategically employing technology to bolster business operations and ensure a competitive stance in the market.

Slide AI-First Organization

Dr. Arak continues, “In our initial foray into data management, our primary focus was on Deep AI Development. However, we’ve come to recognize the equally critical importance of Broad AI Adoption. The intentional and concerted effort to empower our 20,000-30,000 employees with adept data utilization capabilities is underway.

For the realization of Broad AI Adoption, two pivotal steps must be taken: the establishment of a robust foundational infrastructure and the provision of knowledge and tools to ensure effective AI utilization among employees. An illustrative example within SCBX is our utilization of Microsoft’s ‘copilot’ during meetings, aiding in summarizing emails. Presently, our endeavor is directed towards making these cutting-edge tools accessible to all our employees.”

“At the same time, leadership plays a pivotal role. Executives shouldn’t merely advocate for the necessity of transitioning into an AI-first organization; they must actively demonstrate how to achieve it. In our recent SCBX management meeting, we incorporated AI in a modest capacity—translating Thai to English to facilitate communication with foreign board members. Additionally, we employed AI to summarize the meeting, identify key points, and draft a framework. Subsequent human oversight reviews ensure its appropriateness. This serves as a tangible example of high-level executives familiarizing themselves with AI capabilities before formulating organizational policies. It provides a comprehensive overview of the organization’s AI-centric initiative, fostering familiarity within the entire organization,” emphasizes Dr. Arak.

Slide AI-First Organization 2

Deep AI Development

Turning to Deep AI Development, Dr. Arak underscores SCBX’s perspective on its indispensability. To propel the organization, as well as Thailand, towards sustained competitiveness, leveraging AI as a strategic tool for business and country development is imperative.

Slide Deep AI Development

It transcends mere resource utilization; there must be an intrinsic capability to innovate independently. SCBX has consequently presented a formidable challenge, aiming to achieve this through the 3E approach.

1. Elevate Data Foundation

How can we enhance the efficiency of data storage and utilization? Despite its apparent simplicity, this task presents a substantial challenge. The value of storing data lies in its efficient extraction and utilization. Given the diverse formats in which data is stored across various companies within the SCBX Group, realizing its full potential becomes complex. To address this, SCBX pioneered SCB DataX, a dedicated entity aimed at centralizing all data within the SCBX group.

This consolidation ensures accessibility and fosters collaborative usage. SCB DataX not only serves as a repository for data but also offers guidance to subsidiary companies, assisting them in extracting the maximum benefits from this consolidated dataset.

Slide Elevate Data Foundation

2. Establish R&D Sandbox

This endeavor isn’t solely geared towards immediate implementation but rather centers around experimentation and proactive capability development. The pivotal question posed by SCBX was how the organization could excel in Generative AI. This inquiry gave rise to SCBX GPT, a Thai Financial Service GPT endowed with keywords in the Thai language, well-versed in financial services, and operating as a Generative AI.

In collaboration with a Stanford University spin-off, SCBX incorporated Thai language data sourced from diverse websites. Initial testing indicated areas for improvement, yet within four weeks, its latent potential began to surface. Positioned as having greater potential than GPT 3.5, SCBX GPT, while not excelling in all facets initially, demonstrates the capacity for progressive training.

This initiative underscores that, even as a comparatively smaller organization, SCBX harbors the potential for profound development—crafting its own GPT within the context of the Thai language, with prospects to surpass familiar platforms. However, the advent of GPT 4 underscores how global entities, investing billions annually, can streamline tasks previously deemed resource-intensive. This emphasizes the opportunities for organizations and Thailand to delve into the realm of deep AI capabilities.

Slide Establish R&D Sandbox

3. Empower Subsidiaries

SCBX is proactively fostering AI adoption across all entities within its conglomerate. Take InnovestX, the securities subsidiary, as an illustrative example, where AI is leveraged to significantly enhance stock analysis by aiding analysts. In the past, an analyst’s capacity was limited to scrutinizing 5-10 stocks, yet with the integration of AI, this number has surged to a remarkable 100 stocks analyzed within a single hour, with the generation of comprehensive reports.

Analysts then play a pivotal role in reviewing and refining the AI-generated output, showcasing the substantial potential unleashed by the seamless integration of AI. This stands as a concrete manifestation of SCBX’s profound commitment to both the creation and effective deployment of AI capabilities.

Slide Empower Subsidiaries

6 Lessons Learned along the SCBX AI Journey


Above all, technology is about people. No matter how advanced the technology, its success depends on people being open to experimentation. If employees and executives don’t embrace it, success is unlikely. Creating awareness and fostering a culture within the organization are crucial. This is not just a matter of technology; it’s a matter of people, and everyone should strive for continuous development and learning.

2. Always Start with a BIG WHY

Use business challenges as a starting point and ask why you are undertaking a particular initiative. Begin with asking questions. Many times, when working, people tend to dive in first and then ask why they are doing it later. Start with questions rather than assuming what good technologies can do.

3. Change Begins at the Top

Transformation originates from the top. If an organization is to move forward, it requires leadership commitment. The top-level management and board of directors must prioritize this. They must set the tone from the top and act as role models. While familiarity with technology may decrease with age, executives must accept that they don’t know everything and be open to learning.

4. Edge up with Experts

Collaborate with partners and experts to create added value. It’s essential to know what to learn, what to collaborate on, and what tasks to do independently. Similar to the concept of Broad AI Adoption, stimulate employees to explore existing market solutions rather than overthinking. Utilize what’s available to benefit employees. However, certain capabilities need to be developed independently, creating a partnership model based on mutual learning and understanding that knowledge frontiers are advancing rapidly.

5. AI is a Double-Edged Sword

While AI holds immense potential, its misuse can be detrimental. Responsible AI policies are crucial, outlining how organizations can drive AI responsibly. Simultaneously, innovation must be approached cautiously, considering appropriate boundaries. It’s vital to be aware that what is obtained should not be blindly trusted.

6. Act Fast, Experiment as You Go

Dive into action immediately; there’s no need to wait until everything is understood. Waiting and contemplating whether something will work or be cost-effective can lead to missed opportunities. Start before fully understanding and learn as you go. This is particularly important in the realm of AI, where constant learning is necessary.

Dr. Arak encapsulated these considerations in his concluding remarks

To position Thailand as Future Ready, a concerted effort is imperative, involving cooperation among the public and private sectors, the education sphere, and the broader public. This unified action is essential for fostering and enhancing Thailand’s capacities to thrive in future competitions. Neglecting the prioritization of technology, especially in the realms of the Digital Economy and establishing distinctive features vis-à-vis other nations, poses a formidable challenge. Dr. Arak encapsulated these considerations in his concluding remarks.

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