Smart entrepreneurship, social community and big data were the key topics driving the Exact Hackathon held at the Exact Asia Development Centre (ADC) recently, bringing together eight teams of students from six institutions of higher learning in Malaysia and with the support of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).
Held from 13 to 15 September 2017, the challenge which involved 48 hours of continuous hacking, was part of the second annual Exact Global Hackathon that took place simultaneously in five different locations (Delft, Dublin, Kiev, Kuala Lumpur and Minneapolis) around the world.
For the first time, this year’s hackathon involved the participation of students from University of Malaya (UM), Malaysia’s Multimedia University (MMU), Asia Pacific University (APU), Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), The One Academy and Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC). Thirty-six students were paired with mentors from Exact to develop interesting software applications under the three topics of the hackathon and then pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.
Srinivas Sampathkumar, Product Development Director of Exact ADC said, “Being a global tech company, Exact thrives on innovation. This global hackathon is a great way to challenge our employees to be curious, to think outside of the box and to come up with original ideas in a fun way. By involving the students this year, it is an excellent opportunity to start inculcating them in innovative thinking, even before they join the workforce”.
He explained that Exact ADC pioneered the first hackathon activity in 2015 in Kuala Lumpur. Due to its huge success and the volume of innovative ideas that resulted from it, the activity was replicated on a global scale across three continents in 2016, with Malaysia contributing the largest group of participants of 169 people. For the 2017 hackathon, Exact ADC was once again leading the way by working together with MDEC and institutions of higher learning to help bridge the talent skills gap that comes with a booming tech ecosystem.
Hew Wee Choong, MDEC’s Vice President of Investment & Industry Development said, “Malaysia has all the hallmarks of being a tech hub and having Exact ADC organise this hackathon certainly helps put us one step closer to this national aspiration. With the various public-private initiatives in place, we are confident companies are able to quickly move up the value curve in tech enablement”.
In the Exact’s hackathon, themed ‘Develop Tomorrow’s Tech’, the competing teams had to develop applications and ideas under the following categories: -
• Social community – how to help Exact leverage communities and crowds to foster a social enterprise network.
• Smart entrepreneur – how entrepreneurs can be empowered to keep track of their business performance and identify new opportunities
• Big data – how to help businesses harness the value of data to deepen customer engagement, optimise business operations, prevent fraud and capitalise on new sources of revenue.
The five-member team from The One Academy beat the rest with their winning idea titled NEXT, under both Smart Entrepreneur and Social community category. Team NEXT came up with an application that not only works as a travel planner that provides real-time travel reservation information and reminders. It also works as a one-stop platform that connects the traveller seamlessly to other travel services such as TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Traveloka, Expedia, Uber and Grab, offering travel tips and itineraries based on the traveller’s interest, and the place and period travelled. The winning team received prizes worth RM3,000 as well as potential job placements with Exact ADC upon graduation.
“We love the bumpy road of innovation. We would like the people who work with us to dare to challenge the status quo, and to constantly analyse and improve products, organisations and business models. We see Malaysia as having a huge talent pool which is one of the reasons why the ADC is located in Kuala Lumpur. By working together with both MDEC and academic institutions here, we hope to continue to help nurture and develop an innovative-thinking workforce”, said Srinivas.
Exact ADC houses Exact’s international software development team and serves as a regional hub for Southeast Asia. Started with 56 people in 2000, Exact ADC now has 286 employees. Exact’s ERP solutions are designed for small to mid-sized businesses especially those in the manufacturing, wholesale distribution sector and professional services companies.