Two developers, over 30 hours of coding, and countless cups of coffee. This is what InnoJam at SAP Forum in Basel looked like for the Datavard team. Their idea – to develop a 360° Call Agent that will support telemarketing during phone conversations with customers. The result – 2nd place and a panel of very impressed SAP mentors!
The InnoJam Coding Challenge And Why We Just Couldn’t Miss It
SAP Forum is a networking event for the SAP community and people keen on learning about new solutions that optimize SAP products, assist in transitions to SAP HANA, as well as tap into advanced analytics and Big Data. Apart from exhibitions and keynote speeches, it features the InnoJam – a coding challenge where teams of 4 up to 6 people have the chance to innovate and build their solutions from scratch using SAP technology. The motto for this year was “Intelligently Connecting People, Things, and Business”. During the first round, a panel of SAP mentors and experts picks 3 finalists who then need to present their work in front of the audience in just 4 minutes, while everyone votes for the best idea.
Coding challenge like InnoJam is a perfect setup to drive innovation in high gear. With little boundaries people take over the initiative and come up with fresh ideas, that could otherwise go unnoticed during a regular, busy work week. InnoJam gives space, resources and 30 hours of time dedicated to just one thing – developing whatever comes to your mind, however bold vision you have.
And this is why Datavard couldn’t miss the chance to participate as well, although we had the smallest team with only two developers on board – Marina Pontjakova (Latvia) and Anton Krbata (Slovakia). With strong competition, our developers had to focus on the task from the start and divide the workload.
“At the start, we identified what needs to be done and split the work according to our skills and strengths. It worked very well, we both stayed focused and didn’t have any communication problems on the way” – says Marina.
Turning a Brilliant Idea Into a Working Prototype
Datavard team came up with the idea to build a tool that would support telemarketing in talking to customers. Their prototype of 360° Call Agent suggests who to call, when, and what to talk about. Then it records conversations with customers, transcribes them to text and analyzes user behavior. It takes into account multiple factors, such as speed, number of open and closed questions, bad behavior occurrences, or listening vs. talking time ratio. The cherry on top was the simulation option that predicted how changing for example, the speed of talking, would impact the conversation. And for the the ambitious ones, 360° Call Agent would generate a report indicating improvement over time.
The 360° Call Agent leveraged user behavior analytics which was one of the SAP Forum hot topics. Other finalists decided to use IT sensors for their prototypes, and came up with ideas such as intelligent post delivery system or bike rental that would use geo-location data for calculating the rental fee. And while the SAP jury acknowledged those ideas as great use cases, they also noted that the Datavard solution was the only one feasible in the nearest future.
“We actually had people coming over to our booth asking if they could buy it! ” – says Frank Gundlich who supported the team in the presentation part of the InnoJam.
The mentors were really impressed with the solution and nominated it to the final round, where it was up to the audience to decide – the 360° Call Agent won 2nd place, which was more than anyone expected:
“I didn’t even expect we would get to the finals, I was concerned that it was only the two of us against teams of six people. But I’d definitely do it again, only next time I’d wish for more resources” – says Anton
And what is going to happen with the 360° Call Agent? Our developers say it still requires a lot of work and further tuning, but the InnoJam prototype is a very good (and very fast!) start.