Hackathon 2019

On 13 and 14 June, Tesco colleagues and suppliers from the Czech Republic, India, Poland and the UK came together to compete in the eighth annual Tesco Global Hackathon.

The teams had 24 hours to come up with an innovative technology solution to one of these business challenges:

  • How can we use our customers’ data to serve them better?
  • How can we simplify in-store operations/routines?
  • How can we help our customers be more eco-friendly?
  • How can we optimise our transport either for distribution or for Grocery Home Shopping delivery?
  • Come up with an idea that will save the business over £10m in year one
  • Come up with an idea that will generate over £20m revenue in year one

Jo Hickson, Head of Tesco Labs said: “The Hackathon is a great way for us to pull in brilliant ideas from people across the business. Last year’s winning idea is now being trialled in a store in the Czech Republic and we can’t wait to explore the ideas from this year too.”

Lakshmi Madhavarao, a Software Development Engineer in the Search and Recommendations team said: “I have participated two years in a row and happened to be a finalist both times! More than winning, it is really fun to work with different people on an idea and learn new skills in 24 hours. It is just amazing to see what can be done in such a short period of time.”

This year, two separate judging panels, which included Chief Technology Officer Guus Dekkers, CEO of Tesco Business Services Sumit Mitra and Managing Director in the Czech Republic Patrik Dojčinovič, had the tough task of selecting finalists from Europe and India.

Then on 9 July, the finalists took to the stage again where they pitched to a wider panel of Tesco leaders. The panel in India selected Team Double as their winners, who looked to tackle the challenge of simplifying instore operations with their paper and time saving app for colleagues.

In the UK, the winners, NutriScan took on the challenge of using our customers’ data to serve them better, and developed an app to help customers choose products based on dietary requirements.

Thank you to all competitors and everybody who came to support them during their pitches to the judges. There was a really great atmosphere throughout the event and we can’t wait to see some of the ideas come to fruition over the coming months. Congratulations to our winning teams!

Europe Winner

NutriScan – UK (William Powell, Mohamed Mamdouh, Lakshmi Madhavarao, Tim Volkov, George Sykes)

An application that helps in-store customers make the right choices based on dietary preference and shopping history – the app provides personalised recommendations if the original product selected is not suitable or is out of stock.

Europe Finalists

Tesco Magic – UK (Matt Bennett, Lawrence Rayner, Carl Knibbs, Ross Arnone, Adam Cohen-Rose)

A data visualisation tool that brings customer data to life so they can gain a better insight into their relationship with Tesco.

Wawel Dragons – Poland (Urszula Perry, Michał Nawilny, Michał Podskoczy, Artur Skowroński, Michał Fudała)

A system that enables our customers to choose an eco-friendly delivery option for online shopping or enables an eco-friendly option for Click & Collect customers.

Waste Hunters – Czech Republic (Zuzana Radicova, Milan Zelenka, Ondrej Basler, Jaroslav Havelik, Lukas Duris)

An augmented reality application designed to help reduce food waste by enabling colleagues to quickly and easily identify products that are about to expire.

India Winner

Double – (Suryanarayan Raju, Gopal Krushna Pattanaik, Narendra Allampatti, Archit Saxena)

Save paper and time by using both sides of the shelf-edge label to display the promotion price on one side and standard price on the other side. Store colleagues will be notified via app when and where to flip the label.

India Finalists

mBill (Hanumath Mahankali, Balachandar Ramalingam, Ajith Srinath, Sourabh Joshi, PraveenKumar Patil)

Remove the need for a paper receipt at checkout by providing an option for customers to receive a digital receipt using QR code.

Bugs Slayers (Devika Awasthi, Anurag Mishra, Sreenivas T, Shubham Chaturvedi, Manjunathan Raman)

Providing a braille catalogue of products for visually impaired customers and enabling them to add items to the basket using a mobile barcode scanner.

TechHack (Dheeraj Kysetti, Prashant Pandey, Rupasmite Devi)

Providing a virtual store where customers navigate aisles, click items to find out more and add items to their basket virtually.

Meet the new Head of Tesco Labs

Last month, Jo Hickson joined Tesco as the new Head of Tesco Labs. We’ve given Jo some time to find her feet before putting her on the spot with some questions to find out a bit more about her.

Q: Welcome to the team Jo, can you tell us a little bit about your background please?

A: Thank you, it’s great to be here! For the last 10 years I’ve been leading innovation teams for large corporates in retail and the travel industry. I’ve also worked in product development for o2 Telefonica and the National Lottery. I started my career in marketing back when that simply meant creating radio, press and TV ads!

Q: What appealed to you about joining the Tesco Labs team?

A: There were three reasons I wanted to join.
1. The scale of Tesco means there is a huge opportunity for innovation to make a real impact on the retail industry, globally.
2. Joining a well-established, talented and multidisciplinary team.
3. I love retail!

Q: What have you learned in your first weeks in the role?

A: I knew Tesco was a big company but it is even more vast than I’d appreciated. There’s a lot of people to meet and get to know! Also, the team are working on projects that genuinely excite me – watch this space!

Q: Looking forward 20 years, what do you think retail will look like?

A: Again, what I liked about this role was that the scale of our business means we’ve got the opportunity to define the future of retail for consumers. So for me, it will be experiences that redefine convenience, immediacy and personalisation.

Q: Which innovators do you particularly admire?

A: Hedy Lamarr is the innovator I most admire. She was a beautiful Hollywood star in the 30s and 40s but had another passion – inventing. Her most important invention came during World War II, when she realised that radio-controlled torpedoes could be knocked off course. Her solution was to invent and patent a frequency-hopping signal that was impossible to hack. Lamarr’s work was incorporated into early versions of Wi-Fi and today’s Bluetooth technology, the backbone of how we communicate!

Q: And finally, what technology could you not live without?

It’s a cliché but it is the mobile phone. And not really for calls anymore – it’s for podcasts, instant messaging, turning on my heating from anywhere, ordering food on the move, catching up on Netflix shows and Instagram – and so much more. It’s easy for us to forget how far this technology has come in under 10 years. It is a veritable digital swiss army knife of useful tools! The future potential of 5G connectivity affording broadband speeds using new cellular tech is also one to watch.

How may we…innovate as graduates?

Tesco’s 2018 Technology Graduates have just reached the end of their placement with the Tesco Labs team.

The aim of the 7 week placement is for the graduates to build a demonstrable prototype that adds value to the business or solves a problem statement, from across the organisation.

We caught up with Julia Wong and Jack Clare, two of our Technology Graduates to hear about their experience of the Lab placement.

Q: Can you outline the process you went through during the 7 weeks?

Julia: For the first few weeks of the lab placement, our group focused on ideating. We talked through all of the problems we saw during our one-month store placement and put them into How May We (HMW) questions. We chose the HMW that interested us the most in order to come up with the final problem statement.

With a problem statement now selected, we discussed all of the different ways to tackle this problem, verifying our ideas with as many relevant business stakeholders as possible.

The build phase involved creating a wireframe of our mobile application and testing with colleagues. In the last week of the placement, we were given the opportunity to demonstrate our prototype at a demo day and delivered a presentation to the Technology leadership team.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced?

Julia: Picking up so many new skills in such a short space of time was definitely a challenge. With only 4 weeks to actually build our prototype, we had to learn things quickly in order to finish the project in time for the demo day and presentation. However, we could always reach out for help if we were really stuck on something.

Q: Would you do anything differently next time?

Jack: There is actually little I’d do differently next time, as I think that trial, failure and improvement is a really important take away from the Labs placement. However I would try and streamline our validation process for ideas, to allow more ideas to be tested by the team. Time is really precious and there’s always the possibility that we didn’t validate an idea which if we had, would have turned out to be the idea of the century! The more you test and take forward, the better informed your decision making process can be.

Q: What was your biggest learning from the placement?

Jack: I think the biggest take home from the placement is how challenging it can be to actually come up with a groundbreaking, innovative idea that is actually doable! With most of the truly “out there” ideas our team ideated, either they were way too complicated to even build part of in a seven week placement. Or they would never have any valid business case or maybe even there’s no actual customer demand or need for it. However, the ideation time is well spent for those few gems you uncover to take further.

Q: What advice would you give to future Grads doing their placement with the Labs team?

Jack: Keep ideating and validating around each problem space you’re interested in. Your best and most innovative ideas won’t be the first or second, but more likely the 41st or 63rd idea your team comes up with. Don’t be afraid to suggest something that you might think is out there, as it might just end up being viable and could be the root of the Tesco of tomorrow!

Global Hackathon 2018

On 12-13 July we welcomed over 500 people – a record-breaking number – from the Czech Republic, India, Poland, Thailand and the UK to compete against one another in the Tesco Global Hackathon 2018.

The teams were given 24 hours to create an innovative technology solution that could revolutionise the future of retail. The teams, many of whom worked through the full 24 hours, produced a wide-range of innovative solutions focusing on improving the customer shopping experience in-store and at home.

Jordan Skinner, Trainee Produce Manager in our Loughborough Extra store said; “I’ve really enjoyed taking part in the Hackathon and have learned a thing or two. It’s been a really great experience and I would recommend taking part in the Hackathon to anybody working in our stores because it enables you to network and work with people who you wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to meet.”

Indy Kaur, Food Researcher at the Food Academy said, “Fabulous experience working with great techies. The event was fun, stressful and challenged me. Yes, I would do it again. Roll on next year!”

Our judging panel, which included Chief Technology Officer Guus Dekkers, CEO of Tesco India Sumit Mitra, and Senior Manager for Technology in Thailand Wiphak Trakanrungsi, listened to the three-minute pitches from each team and selected regional winners to progress to the grand final.

The top three teams in each of Europe, India and Thailand, listed below, then pitched again to the judging panel with the aim of becoming Tesco Hackathon Global Winners for 2018.

After some tough deliberations, the judges decided that Nav AR and their in-store augmented reality solution were worthy winners. Congratulations to all of our finalists who each receive prizes. Nav AR will be able to celebrate their win with a trip to Lisbon in November to attend Web Summit, the world’s largest tech event.

Thanks to everyone who competed and to those who came to watch the pitches. It was fantastic to see teams from so many different disciplines come together to create such innovative solutions in such a short amount of time. Congratulations again to our winners!

See you in 2019!

Europe Top Three

Team: Nav AR
Location: Czech Republic
Hack: AR store navigation solution – allows customers and colleagues to navigate to products using an augmented reality layer

Team: The Checkout Boys
Location: UK
Hack: An innovative in-house build using enterprise APIs and consumer technology to show what the next generation of tills could look like.

Team: Epicureans
Location: UK
Hack: The use of sentiment analysis and natural language processing to derive the intent of customers and drive basket completion through recommendations based on sparse, unstructured or conflicting information.

India Top Three

Team: Tesco Visionaries
Hack: A way to configure nutritional information for health-related shopping decisions.

Team: Grey Matter
Hack: A platform to show heat maps generated through computer vision to detect movement of customers in stores.

Team: Rockers
Hack: The Tesco Shopping Assistant app which is a voice assistant agent connected to our Product API. This can be used by customers through a phone or a self-service kiosk to guide them round a store.

Thailand Top Three

Team: Shopachip
Hack: Aims to connect gamers with Tesco via a platform which allows them to purchase via virtual reality.

Team: Tesco Easy Checkout
Hack: An app that you can link your payment and Clubcard details through. Customers can then scan barcodes in store and leave with a checkoutless experience.

Team: Tech Crusader
Hack: An app to manage in home stock inventory.