Generating digital ideas to make lives easier

Generating digital ideas to make lives easier

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Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman was having breakfast with his wife one morning in 1971 when it dawned on him that the grooves in the waffle iron she was using would be an excellent mould for a running shoe. It’s impossible to predict where the best ideas will come from.

Our Digital Lab is now up and running and Sainsbury’s Digital and Technology division is driving the business forward like never before. However, I don’t think that means all the great projects coming out of the Lab will have been first thought of there. 

With this thinking we recently asked our 161,000 colleagues across the business from stores to banking, to property and depots to submit an idea on how technology can help make the lives of our customers and colleagues easier. Over 100 ideas were submitted and last week, we held our first hackathon to develop the best six ideas into prototypes within 24 hours. 

Here are some of our talented, digital experts and practitioners brainstorming with enthusiastic and smart colleagues who thought up the ideas. It was great to see the start-up mentality of the groups. 

We are making big investments in our technology and are always keen to try new tools and ways of working. This is supported at every level of our business. In fact both our Chairman and CEO came to the hackathon. Our Food Commercial Director, Paul Mills-Hicks who couldn’t be at the event dialled into an ipad seqway which he controlled and used to visit and talk to each group about their ideas. I am pleased to report there were no Usain Bolt moments! We also had fun with an oculus rift, a face recognition camera and a drone.

At the end of the 24 hours the developed prototypes were presented to a judging-panel. The ideas were so good that like the Nike waffle story we won’t be sharing them yet. However, we will definitely be holding more hackathons and this competition proved a great way to generate ideas and get everyone across the business thinking about how we can use technology to improve the lives of our customers and colleagues.

Jon Rudoe, Director of Digital and Technology