Following the success of SAP and Microsoft’s inaugural ANZ Hackathon in 2020, this year saw another competition event that tested the developer community across both brands. This cross-brand partnership gave developers from around the APJ region the chance to collaborate, connect, and innovate using some of the most intelligent and robust technology solutions from Microsoft and SAP.

This year’s event saw entries from 13 different teams, most of them from Australia and New Zealand, as well as India, Japan and Indonesia. Each team was tasked with building an intelligent but practical solution to challenges the world is facing. The theme of the hackathon, “The Evolution of Work”, focused on the changing working landscape not only off the back of the COVID pandemic. It was also about how technology (AI/ML and Automation to name a few) is changing the working landscape, how we reskill people and how people will interact with technology and colleagues in the ever-evolving workplace of the future.

Teams also had to work and collaborate digitally, stretching the Hackathon’s duration to a two-week sprint that saw members of the partner ecosystem work together to solve real-world challenges faced by SAP and Microsoft customers – particularly as both brands are committed to simplifying and streamlining the customer journey through cloud-based solutions.

And the winner is…

Third place went to Team Still Viral from DXC Technology with their solution, Parkman, which used artificial intelligence and machine learning to help drivers park more efficiently while assisting parking rangers in their work.

A vehicle’s onboard camera is used to capture real-time data of license plates, sending this information to Azure for further processing. Azure Cognitive Services, Azure Event Grid, Azure Block Storage, and Azure Functions process the license plate data to send a text-based event to SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP),  with SAP HANA Cloud being used to check the records for the same vehicles from previous patrols submitted by different parking rangers.

Combining this data with location-based parking rules, Parkman can detect differences and issues (such as overparking), sending a message directly to the vehicle’s stereo and heads up display, which is powered by SAP’s BTP web application. This feature can also be used for drivers trying to understand the parking rules of a specific area or spot.

Parkman can also connect with other public services, such as finding a license plate being looked for by Crime Stoppers, and automatically forwards a message to them with the relevant data. Further assistance for parking rangers is provided through voice activation supported by SAP Conversational AI, which can communicate to them the parking rules and incidents in their vicinity, either via in-car stereo or smart device.

Thomas Yuan from team ‘Still Viral’ explained that how the first version of Parkman was developed in 2013. However, he found it was too expensive to upload mobile video data back then. He was thrilled to revisit this idea today with a dramatically different outcome as SAP and Microsoft allowed him and his team to explore its potential through intelligent technology solutions.

Second place was awarded to Team BourneHack from Bourne Digital for TakeOff – an onboarding system that was demonstrated through a video of animated character ‘Holly’ starting her first day at a hybrid workplace.

Holly immediately received her company device with all software downloaded and ready for use, which included all account logins autogenerated by Azure. The focus of TakeOff is to guide and support new workers through the onboarding process, particularly as new-starts handle the challenges of beginning a new role remotely.

New employees, like Holly, are automatically guided through the onboarding process with simple steps that are also accessible via mobile app. TakeOff also includes an interactive organisation chart so Holly can navigate the team structure, understanding the names and roles of her new colleagues.

If faced with any issues or questions, TakeOff provides employees with a support centre and chatbot. This chatbot also acts as a tour guide in TakeOff’s virtual office AR induction, which is powered by Microsoft HoloLens. This intelligent function means employees can familiarise themselves with the office layout and explore it in a 3D-rendered environment so they’re comfortable with the layout once they get to the physical office.

According to Team BourneHack representative, Julia Leong, the whole team are passionate about the onboarding experience particularly as businesses strive to create a good first impression that helps attract and retain new talent during the challenges of the pandemic.

The winner of the 2021 SAP and Microsoft ANZ Hackathon was Team Aztecs from Capgemini, who produced an Upskilling Kiosk to assist those whose jobs were lost or rendered obsolete during the pandemic outbreak.

Operating in India, Team Aztecs understood first-hand how AI and the global pandemic are greatly impacting on employment and redundancies. The team highlighted studies that show the value in upskilling and reskilling staff compared to rehiring, seeing this as an opportunity to provide more resources and support to vulnerable workers.

Team Aztec noted two key upskilling challenges – skill development programs rarely direct focus on outcomes while training is generally through reading or video lectures, leading to trainees missing out on real world experience. The focus of Team Aztec was to bridge this gap with intelligent technology.

Using the digital Upskilling Kiosk, users answered a series of questions through an AI-powered chatbot. The kiosk then recommended a relevant learning journey based on each employee’s answers and experience. The platform can also show trainees what kinds of internal jobs they can apply for in the future.

The chatbot acts like a program manager, calculating utilisations, booking meetings, and offering guidance to trainees. Not only are they provided with scenario-based testing through AI, but trainees can access dashboards, reports, and analytics to closely monitor their learning journey and understand what skills are valued in the job market.

Team Aztec representative, Sayan Pal said the motivation behind this development was the common challenge many faced during COVID – upskill or be made redundant. Sayan noted that the project wasn’t just about reskilling people but offering them visibility around their training and development, which can lead to new opportunities and prevent employees from losing their jobs in an ever-changing talent marketplace.

A special thanks to all our participants, judges, and mentors. Your efforts made SAP and Microsoft Innovation Hackathon #2  an exciting competition that brought real-world solutions to the common challenges many businesses and individuals face.

To learn more about the Hackathon, this year’s winners, or to register your interest in upcoming Hackathons, reach out to Marin Videnov on Linkedin.