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Datacom hackathon pushes social impact and CSR to the fore

29 Aug 17

'Extraordinary: design a future where technology provides a better society' was the theme this year for Datacom’s annual hackathon, Datacomp.

Using technology to create new solutions that have social impact grew out of Datacom’s desire to support local communities while also creating sustainable social enterprise ideas.

The 48-hour hackathon, now in its sixth year, attracted close to 300 participants, making it one of the largest hackathons ever held in New Zealand.

Participants included Datacom staff from across Australasia, as well as customers, volunteers, and design students from Unitec, Media Design School and Manukau Institute of Technology.

The event ran over the weekend at Datacom’s new building in the heart of the innovation district in Wynyard Innovation Precinct, Auckland.

Lisa King of home grown social enterprise Eat My Lunch was one of four judges for the intensely competitive event.

Eat My Lunch provided one of the lunches during Datacomp, and as a result, 300 lunches will be given to school kids.

Lisa was joined on the judging panel by Alexia Hilbertidou, social entrepreneur and founder of GirlBoss NZ as well as Jonathan Ladd, Datacom group CEO and Greg Davidson, Datacom, A/NZ CEO.

“The goal of Datacomp is to practice and therefore learn new ways of developing innovative solutions to the challenges faced by our customers – and society,” Davidson says.

“A range of Datacom customers posed some tricky real-world problems with a strong socially responsible focus, problems that if solved will improve the lives of people around New Zealand.

"Innovation sits at the heart of everything we do, it’s the engine that drives our business, so Datacomp is about channelling that innovative know-how to solve a number of social issues and get better results for our customers.”

The first prize went to Team Happy Life for charity Child Matters which provides adult training to help prevent child abuse.

The idea is an app that can help reduce the paperwork burden required to get government funding, and correlate information collected with actual governmental concern data to help tackle and prevent abuse across New Zealand.

Team Happy Life decided to donate their $2000 prize money to the Child Matters charity.

Second prize went to Team Desgenerates utilising the Datacom payroll services app.

Charities need exposure and funds, and employers want charitable alignment to build employee engagement.

By creating a giving function within the payroll app, employees across a range of industries can donate money at any time to the charity of their choice, as many times and they like and change who they donate to at any time.

Third prize went to Team Making Datacom Magnificent who wanted to improve the experience for children, parents and healthcare workers in hospitals.

Using the idea of ‘track and trace’ technology, kids are electronically checked in and out of services and locations using a wrist band device.

Parents can rest easy, receiving notifications that their child has finished at radiology and is en route to the ward so they can time their return to the ward to be there for their child.

Davidson also noted how important the annual hackathon is to Datacom’s own people.

“Datacomp is a way of exploring beyond the tight bounds of the customer engagements that we usually operate in, to different ways of working. It’s amazing what happens when people are asked to achieve something in short time frames, it can be incredibly galvanising. It shows that our people can come together to co-create solutions and get results quickly. It’s a way of uncovering and fostering an entrepreneurial spirit.

“This is our seventh hackathon in six years. By the end of this event, over 700 people across Datacom have now been trained in new ways of working - lean, rapid prototyping, HCD, lean canvassing, and presentation skills. They have also been exposed to the newest and sharpest tech available.”

The 48-hour hackathon saw diverse teams competing to design, build and execute a clever solution using a cutting-edge technology.

At the end of the weekend, each team presented their prototype and business case in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style judging event.

Datacom partners Microsoft and Amazon Web Services were on hand throughout the weekend.

“Their expert support and advice throughout the weekend was invaluable to the participants,” Davidson says.

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