The Fung Group’s second ever hackathon, Hack the Rack, saw some stellar innovating on the future of retail – so how did it all wrap up?.
Held at our newest innovation hub, Explorium, in Hong Kong, the 2.5 day event brought together data scientists, software engineers, UX/UI designers and industry professionals who co-created solutions for the very real business challenges we face within the Fung Group.
Hack the Rack highlights
This year, a diverse group of 73 participants joined the event. Three startups took part in the event and there were six students from universities both from across Hong Kong and international institutions.
Participants formed teams of five to six members and selected from a series of four pre-set challenges, which they were then to prototype and present their final innovations to the judges. The challenges were offered up by our internal business units, seeking to discover ways of working through challenges they face themselves. Over 30 mentors came together from across Circle K, Li & Fung, Trinity and Fung Academy to help our participants shape their ideas and offer advice.
“Seeing groups of talent on the floor solving real business challenges, using our feedback and their technical skills, I can see the power of open-sourcing and collaboration with the external communities,” said Lawrence Chan, Senior Department Manager – Category Development, Circle K.
“When I was invited to join the hackathon as a mentor to support one of the challenges, I did not hesitate to say yes,” said Patrick Grzywa, General Manager – Operations, LF Logistics, “this event was all about tackling real Li & Fung business challenges with speed and innovation. It was incredible to see how the solutions were being shaped from start to finish as the teams learned more about the business through ongoing feedback and review by all mentors involved.”
Coming in first place, Team Reboot, solved the Logistics challenge with a solution combining data analytics with order data and third-party shipping API to predict volume for current and future orders so that it would raise the container utilization to 90% and above. Team Reboot leader Matt O’Connor said this year’s hackathon “had meaningful problems and meaningful teams to solve the problems,” and that it also “spoke to what benefits the business, not boxing people in but saying, ‘build us a cool solution!’ and letting people really explore how to create business value.”
Winner of the second place was Team Zuhlke, who had joined the competition as a team building exercise for the newly incorporated Hong Kong branch of the German company. They combined the quality control challenges with the image tagging challenge to create an app with an optimized online catalogue interface to categorize images using deep learning technology, with an added functionality to digitalize the garment measuring process through incorporating mixed reality technology with Microsoft’s HoloLens. Moritz Gomm of the team said, “Hack the Rack really opened our eyes and it’s amazing to see the diversity of business and products that Fung Group has – the fact that we are able to be involved to help solve a problem of a company of this scale and that they are so open and keen to our ideas and suggestions – that is to me, the best part of the whole experience!”
Third place winner Team M3 came up with an idea to combine the Circle K customer data and external data sources such as time of purchase, seasonality, news content, shopping habits, and weather patterns to create micro-moments that inform product and promotion suggestions. JP Stevenson of the Fung Academy, a member of the team, attributed his team’s success to the external participants, “as a practitioner of data, working with a team of data scientists from a large corporate like Mass Mutual provided me with an outside perspective on how advanced analytical techniques such as artificial intelligence can create better strategy even within an environment that is highly constrained – we won because of this.”
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