Canon Launches Digital Product Built by Students
On 19-20 May 2017, the Paddl Games Canon Hack Challenge was held at Canon Australia's headquarters in Sydney. 30 students and graduates from nine universities and two TAFEs came together to deliver a solution to a business challenge in 48 hours. The winning pitch has been developed by Canon as a fully-fledged customer solution and delivered to market on Monday, 3 July, 2017. Numerous roles were also created and offered to participating students and graduates including Canon’s request for a proposal on an internship program.
Canon is the world's leading imaging organisation that service the needs of consumers and businesses worldwide with an extensive range of products and services including cameras and printers. They identified a need to re-imagine customer experience for business customers. In particular, they wanted to improve the ability to service "Multifunctional Devices", ie printers used by most businesses and universities.
The Canon team believed adigital solution was needed to solve Canon's customer service challenge. Adding to the pressure of the addressing the challenge, was management’s insistence that any solution, product or service had to be delivered to market by 30the June, and; that it had to have the buy-in of Canon employees and executives.
Canon's key objectives included the following:
- highlight Canon’s culture of innovation
- reinvent a customer experience
- develop a customer solution, build a prototype and deliver to market by June 30, 2017
- provide key staff with meaningful leadership training and development experience
The Solution: Paddl Games Hack Challenge
Paddl Games Hack Challenges engage students, graduates and employers in a fun and competitive environment to identify market opportunities and/or solve real commercial problems. Inspired by the popularity of hackathons, Hack Challenges also present an innovative way for business to see talent in action, assess and identify future hires.
The Canon Hack Challenge was held at Canon Australia headquarters in Sydney over two days on 19-20 May, 2017. Five teams were formed from a pool of 30 shortlisted students and graduates and 30 Canon employees across the business including field service, sales and marketing, HR, legal, engineering and customer support.
Keys to achieving Canon's objectives were:
1. Engaging Paddl's extensive educator network and experience marketing to students and graduates to attract relevant, high quality applicants for the Canon Hack Challenge
Applications were generated through a marketing strategy which included social media campaigns, promotional posters distributed at target educators, and email campaigns and communications with existing registered Paddl users.
2. Creating a pool of emerging student and graduate talent on paddljobs.com
Students and graduates had to register and apply via paddljobs.com enabling Canon to build a talent pool of relevant applicants and select a final shortlist:
- using Paddl's geo-demographic filters and tags, the Canon Hack Challenge was posted as an opportunity on Paddl and presented to Paddl Students and Graduates in relevant locations, educational institutions and courses
- specific filters were created as part of the Paddl application process including a series of Yes/No questions applicants were required to answer successfully to progress their application
- top contenders were identified and selected
3. Creating Hack Challenge teams consisting of individuals from diverse backgrounds, education, qualification and experience
30 students and graduates were formed into five competing teams, ensuring that each member brought a unique perspective and skill set to the team.
Gender and cultural diversity, qualification and experience levels were also considered in the team mix, which consisted of domestic and international students from various cultural backgrounds.
The team members came from nine universities and two TAFEs:
- Australian Catholic University
- Charles Sturt University
- Macquarie University
- TAFE NSW
- University of New South Wales
- University of Sydney
- University of Technology Sydney
- University of Western Sydney
- University of Wollongong
Disciplines and Qualifications
Educational backgrounds and qualifications included:
- Bachelor of Applied Finance
- Bachelor of Applied Public Health
- Bachelor of Biomedical Science
- Bachelor of Business
- Bachelor of Computer Science
- Bachelor of Commerce (International)
- Bachelor of Commerce (Finance)
- Bachelor of Commerce (Professional Accounting)
- Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Arts & Design)
- Bachelor of Information Systems
- Bachelor of Information Technology
- Bachelor of Law
- Bachelor of Medical Science
- Diploma of Marketing & Communications
- Diploma of Software Development
- Master of Business Administration
- Master of Commerce
- Master of Information Technology
- Master of Management
- Master of Media Arts and Production
4. Student engagement and preparation for the Hack Challenge
A dedicated Slack channel was set up for each team to share knowledge and information, brainstorm ideas, and get to know each other. Additional Slack channels provided for all team discussion and sharing of important information including briefs on the Canon business, and travel and accommodation recommendations for regional students, and post event networking.
The Paddl Games Slack channels proved to be highly effective in providing team members a central place to:
- discuss ideas and share resources
- announce updates and important information including post Hack Challenge networking.
- form connections and prepare for the Hack Challenge
Participants were provided a Hack Challenge Participant Brief which included all necessary information to participate successfully in a Hack Challenge. This was further supported by an interactive webinar presented by event partner Edgelabs who introduced participants to Design Thinking and collaborative problem-solving, which was invaluable for students who had not been previously exposed to these concepts.
5. Engaging Canon employees and utilising their business and market knowledge to inform ideas and solutions
Each team received support and mentorship from at least three Canon employees consisting of an engineer and two representatives from various parts of the business including sales and marketing, field service, customer support and human resources.
6. Expert facilitation by a specialist team experienced in Design Thinking and collaborative-problem solving
The two-day Hack Challenge was facilitated by Edgelabs - a consulting firm that helps startups or new product categories, attain product-market fit. Paddl engaged Edgelabs to design a Hack Challenge which helped students and graduates, who may have had little to no exposure to Hack Challenges or product development, learn and apply the concept of Design Thinking, and perform under pressure. Edgelabs created a framework so that the teams were able to rapidly organise, problem solve, build a prototype, and pitch their ideas and solutions in just 48 hours.
400 interested students and graduates within two weeks
60 shortlisted candidates
30 successful candidates
5 Hack Challenge teams
5 product prototypes in 48 hours
1 fully-developed product presented to customers in 6 weeks
roles and further opportunities offered to Hack Challenge participants
development of an internship program
Outcomes for Canon
The winning team pitched a product which Canon developed into a fully-fledged customer solution within six weeks of the Hack Challenge. It was launched to business customers on Monday, July 3, 2017. By the end of October, 2017, it is expected that the product will have 20,000 users.
The Impact on Business and Innovation Culture
The Hack Challenge represented a new and innovative approach to solving an important commercial problem. It demonstrated a new way to rapidly develop ideas, build a prototype and create a go-to-market strategy leveraging fresh thinking of relevant students and graduatess and the experience and subject matter knowledge of employees. A process which usually takes months at any large organisation was delivered in two days. This disruptive approach to product development highlighted the importance of the innovation culture at Canon.
Leadership and Mentoring Experience for Canon Staff
Canon employees who participated in the Hack Challenge had an opportunity to demonstrate their leadership, people management and organisational abilities. It created development opportunities for employees outside of their normal roles, and delivered high employee engagement and Net Promoter Score (NPS).
New Hires and Talent Pool
Recruiting new hires was not part of Canon’s original objectives, however, Canon was exposed to a very different mix of talent to what they would normally have considered relevant talent. As a result, a number of roles were created in different parts of the business, including full-time and casual roles, and offered to some of the participating students and graduates. Cano has also committed to an ongoing internship program as part of its talent selection and development process.
Outcomes for Students
Real-World Experience and Practical Application of Design Thinking
Students and graduates were mentored in Design Thinking, collaborative decision-making and applied product development strategies to solve a real commercial problem. Most importantly, they were able to put education theory into practice in a multi-disciplinary workplace setting, alongside Canon employees and industry leaders.
All participants were extended direct contact with senior managers across the Canon Australia business, as well as other industry leaders and potential employers. Educators were also invited to visit and observe a session during the Hack Challenge.
Job Offers and Internship Program
A number of roles were created and are being offered to participating students and graduates. Canon’s desire to create an internship program with a difference will provide even further opportunity for the Hack Challenge participants. They were challenged, stimulated and excited by the unique experience gained.
Don't miss out on the next Paddl Games!
Get in quick for early access and exclusive updates on the next Paddl Games Hack Challenges including:
- The ABC - Sydney, December 2017 (date TBC)
- Franchise Council of Australia - Coming soon
- Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association - Coming soon
- Canon - Coming soon
- Restaurant & Catering Australia - Coming soon
- Metro Trains - Wednesday, 6 September 2017, Melbourne.
Interested in Paddl Games for your organisation? Please contact Dominique Fisher on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03 9514 3000.