ABS Nautical Systems (NS) strives to develop innovative products based on feedback from clients or driven by ABS business plan requirements. However, it’s important to recognize the innovations that can emerge from within all levels of the organization.
Silicon Valley-based companies host “hackathons,” bringing together developers to focus on a challenge, collaborate on creating a new solution – whether it’s a website, mobile app or other program – and give a jump-start on developing new technologies.
That’s why NS hosted its own version of the same event – Codefest 2017 – for its developers on February 2-3 in Pune, India.
“This was our attempt to open up all boundaries for our colleagues at work,” said Anindya Talukdar, Managing Director of ABS, Pune. “We let our colleagues pick their thinking partners. As famous playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, ‘If you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.’”
The 24-hour event sparked collaborative discussions across the NS offices, motivating and energizing the team to create new ideas that will produce results quickly for clients.
“We saw a few ideas that would be a winner with our customers right now,” Anindya said. “Some will improve product usage patterns, while some will reduce NS support desk calls. We saw a statistical tool to support marketing efforts. There was also a traceability matrix tool for our code base, which will maintain code quality as enhancements are made.”
Participation was voluntary, but everyone on the Pune team joined in. Eleven teams were comprised of 59 staff members, and the prototypes they submitted were scored on several specific criteria added to get a total score on a 100-point scale:
The teams had from noon on February 2 until noon on February 3 to develop a working prototype linked to a business need for ABS or its clients. Teams were free to pick their own ideas. Each team delivered a 15-minute presentation introducing what they developed and the value it delivers.
“It was difficult to decide the winners, because there were many worthy ideas for consideration as NS products,” Anindya said. “There were several futuristic product ideas as well as ideas for internal collaboration and development efficiency. It was really a ‘wow’ moment for us, especially considering it was the first Codefest type of event for many participants.”
The winning team’s idea will be integrated into the NS Enterprise software at the end of Q2.
Stephen Schwarz, COO of Nautical Systems and John Hathaway, Director of Product Management, announced the winners and runners-up, awarding electronic gadgets to the winners and a certificate from Nautical Systems.
“Today, we unleashed our colleagues’ minds and saw multiple winning ideas. It was fun, people know each other better, and I’m sure it will change our thinking process in the future,” Anindya said. “This team should be proud of their ideas and the innovation they showed that can really change our business.”
In addition to the Codefest event, NS is about to deliver some additional innovations this year. The Nautical Systems Enterprise 6.5 software release will launch in Q2 2017 and will include NS Insight - a business intelligence module, a new on-demand reporting tool, and a mobile application that’s currently being piloted with a small group of clients.