I was informed by SAP Mentor Paul Hawking that the SAP InnoJam was being held at Victoria University in Melbourne. I was hesitant to register at first because I heard people say that “it’s for technical people”, “you need to know how to code” and I am not very technical, nor do I know how to code. There was also the issue of being on maternity leave from my role as a Business Analyst in the Safety and Workers Compensation department of a global logistics company plus studying part time at Victoria University doing the Master of Business ERP Systems degree. I had young children to look after and assignments to complete so trying to find a spare 30 hours to be involved in the SAP InnoJam was a huge challenge. However, my curiosity got the better of me and I watched the video of the SAP InnoJam in Sydney and thought I will just go, contribute in any way that I can and hopefully learn from the experience and most of all have some fun!
On Sunday morning, I walked into Level 9 of the Victoria University Flinders Street Campus and was greeted by a friendly Rui Nogueira. Then I met Grainne Quinn who would be one of my team members. We all went upstairs to the room where we would work as a group to come up with a solution for a problem. After splitting all those who can code, I decided to work with people in Team 1 which consisted of Malinda Kapuruge form Swinburne University, Danny Pham from Victoria University, Grainne Quinn from Lonely Planet and Fendy Wongso from Discovery Consulting, purely because I had never met or worked with them before.
The theme was ‘Fighting the Bushfires’. We went through the Design Thinking methodology, facilitated by Hester Hilbrecht, with the help of Gigi Read, to go through the process of understanding the problem we were dealing with, coming up with ideas on how to solve that problems and use ‘Persona’ and ‘Point of View’ to really target our possible solution. Our team decided to come up with a solution for the efficient coordination of emergency services in the event of a bushfire. Before we came up with any solution, we did some research. Grainne and I decided that we would watch videos and listen to people’s accounts of what they experienced in the Victorian Bushfires. We shared our findings. We filtered down the list to items we wanted to focus on. Then we brainstormed ideas, picked the ones we thought was possible and started coming up with what that solution would look like and what it would do for our end user.
I really enjoyed the Design Thinking process. It was great to see how it really took us through each step necessary to finally come up with a solution. To me, the most important aspect of the Design Thinking process was the need to come up with a persona and a statement that would clearly communicate what we wanted to do for that persona. Our persona was Russell, a 45 year old ex-fire-fighter who got injured on the job and now works at the Emergency Coordination Centre. Russell needed to ensure he has adequate information because he needs to despatch fire trucks to affected areas. It was absolutely crucial that we understood who would be the user of our solution. We needed to understand why they needed to solve the problem they had and how we could provide them with a solution. We also needed to recognise what they need out of the solution.
Our solution was a big screen where Russell would have visibility over any area that is affected. He would also be able to see his resources and their availabilities and send them directions to where the next fire is. To do this, we thought we could feed data into Hana containing weather information, fire details, resource location (GPS), resource availability (status update via handheld device e.g. iPhone), physicals blocks etc. We were then going to write some sort of algorithm to provide resources with routes on how to get to the next fire and avoid any road blocks.
After we finished coming up with our solution and a prototype, we presented to everyone for feedback. It was great to see the ideas that others came up with. We then had some experts show us SAP’s products, technologies and tools:
- SAP NetWeaver Cloud: Matthias Braun (SAP)
- Sybase PowerBuilder: Mark Bradley (SAP)
- HANA: Jack Boers (SAP), Warwick Tagg (SAP), Rita Kontoudis (SAP)
- SAP NetWeaver Gateway: John Paterson, John Moy (MMG)
- SAPUI 5: Rui Nogueira (SAP)
When it was time to start working on the prototype, I can see my fellow team members looking excited and enthusiastic about getting their hands on the SAP technologies. I had a look at Hana and how to view data in tables and link tables together. The problem was we couldn’t see the table we needed. We tried doing different things to get going with our prototype and asked experts for their opinions but at the end of the day, there just wasn’t enough time for us to learn and use what we needed to use. It was disappointing but the fun was in being able to play with the technologies and seeing what we could use and what we couldn’t use for our scenario.
We continued working on our prototype the next day. Since I couldn’t code, I decided to work on our presentation which we had to give in front of the jury – Tas Adams, Rui Nogueira, Simon Dale. We worked as a team bouncing ideas of each other. Unfortunately we didn’t get to create our prototype so I presented the idealistic view of what we envisioned it would look like. Malinda and Fendy filled in the technical details. I enjoyed seeing other teams present their solutions. Team “Where’s Wally” won with their impressive fire alert tool.
It was interesting to see how different people can work together collaboratively, bringing our individuality, assumptions, experience, background and learning styles together. We were a diverse bunch of people who seem to fit together. I really enjoyed the SAP InnoJam because I got to meet people in the SAP Community and find out more about their background and what it took to get them to where they are today. It also made me appreciate that business problems need all sorts of people to come up with a solution. Everyone has something different and unique to contribute which should be valued. We ended Monday by taking some photos and although everyone was exhausted, there was a buzz in the air, the atmosphere really said it all… we all had fun at the SAP InnoJam 2012 in Melbourne.
Thank you to Chris Paine (@wombling) for allowing me to use some of his photos.