April 25, 2016

So you've run a hackathon. What next?

Simon Panelius

Vice President, Operational Development, Fazer Food Services Oy

Back in February, Fazer Food Services joined forces with Tieto to run its first-ever hackathon. Now, just two months down the line, we're piloting one of the solutions in our restaurants. Here's a look back at our journey.

At the time I wrote my last blog, Lessons in Innovation from the Fazer Food Services hackathon, Fazer Food Services and Tieto had just wrapped up CXHack Fazer after a weekend of frantic innovation. The event was a huge success, and we were all in high spirits - the quality of the submissions had surpassed our expectations and we'd found some brilliant new perspectives on our industry and business model.

There was just one unanswered question: what next?

Quite a lot, it turned out! Most notably, we've actually started running a pilot of the winning solution in two of our restaurants. So, after just two months, we've made great progress in using the hackathon model to create value for our business.

Here's a look back at our journey and how we reached this point.

Choosing to run a pilot

As I discussed last time, Fazer Food Services really had no idea what to expect from our hackathon. It was a totally blank canvas for us to experiment with a new way of working, and I personally thought there was about a 50-50 chance of the event actually producing something we could use further down the line.

So, when Better Now won CXHack Fazer with their smart feedback solution, we found ourselves with a fantastic idea on our hands and zero plan in place for our next steps.

Simon Panelius (in the middle) together with winning team members Ann Plough and Rahul AbhisekSimon Panelius (in the middle) together with Rahul Abhisek and Ann Plough two of three winning team members .

Nonetheless, we felt compelled to develop the concept further. With Tieto's help, we set about quickly turning it into a working solution that we could trial in real-world locations.

Not long afterwards, on April 11th, the pilot kicked off at two venues: the Aalto University campus restaurant and the Tieto restaurant. It'll run for three months, and we'll be watching carefully to see how the solution is received by both our customers and our staff.

Monitoring and measuring

Compared to the average pilot, our process has been a little out of the ordinary. Most organisations will wait until they have a finished solution ready before they carry out a real-world trial, whereas we're still changing ours as we go. Also, we're not just testing whether the solution meets our expectations or not - we're still exploring, with an open mind, how it can create value.

Already, early data from the pilot has taught us plenty about the factors that influence response rates, as well as given us some ideas as to how we can make the feedback useful to Fazer Food Services as a whole. We're also looking forward to speaking to our staff about the solution and whether it makes their lives easier or not, and if there's scope to make the feedback more meaningful to them.

Once the pilot is over, we might decide to roll the solution out to other locations. It might even find a permanent home in some of our restaurants. Right now, though, we're still learning, and we're still excited about the possibilities and opportunities.

Driving a cultural change

Moving so quickly from a concept to a pilot has, of course, been a major departure from the way we normally work at Fazer Food Services. As a large organisation, we're simply not used to this level of speed and agility, and our people have had to adapt to a totally new methodology practically overnight.

However, it's also been amazing to see how much enthusiasm and support the idea has generated throughout the business in such a short space of time. It's spread from team to team and inspired a huge number of people to contribute their own great work to the project.

To my mind, this really highlights the wider value of CXHack Fazer and how the hackathon model can help drive a cultural change in an organisation.

All in all, it's been an exciting journey so far. And who knows what else the pilot - or, potentially, the next hackathon - might bring in the future?


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