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ACA gets 2nd place at Innovation Safari Automotive Hackathon!

Yakup KalinYakup Kalin


Innovation Safari Hackathon

Last week ACA IT-Solutions teamed up with SalesCre8 and joined the Innovation Safari Automotive Hackathon. This hackathon was organized at the German Remarketing Congress in Würzburg, Germany. The goal of the hackathon was to find and work out an innovative and customer-oriented idea within the automotive industry. After 24 hours, the idea would get judged based on a three-minute pitch, backed up by a (clickable) prototype.

We eventually ended up in second place. Wondering how we squeezed our 24h silver-winning story in just merely 3 minutes? Then definitely read on!

Creating common understanding

In a crowded room, the organization gave us a specific topic for the hackathon: digital car trade-in. With the topic in mind, we started the hackathon with the part we do best. We found the key persons and talked with them to understand their needs and the field they’re in. Luckily, we stumbled upon three people from a local automotive dealer called Schmolck and started asking questions. With the profound automotive knowledge of SalesCre8 and those specific questions, we tried to shine light and align on the local automotive market, customers, dealers and the hassle they experience. This common understanding was very important since we were a cross-disciplinary team. Our team consisted of various members with different roles such as Automotive Business Consultants and UX/IT experts. With such a wide range of profiles, it’s evident that we all would have had different interpretations of the market without this common understanding.
WarRoom
Once we absorbed and processed the crucial information, the main problem the dealers and customers were experiencing became clear. The current trade-in process just took too long. People who wanted to trade in their own (old) car for a new one, had to go through a whole process of manual data input. Once the data was entered, the dealer needed to contact the customer, for example by phone, before getting a price. This process just took too long and thus didn’t always lead to a deal.

A new convenient way of digital trade-in

Knowing and focusing on the main problem, we tried to trigger ideas within the team in our very own ‘war room’. Of course, we also included the three dealers from Schmolck to solve this problem. The goal was to generate a lot of ideas so we could rate them based on feasibility, user-friendliness and usability. It was very important to not only come up with a feasible idea, but also a user-friendly and usable idea. We wanted to avoid a situation where we would have ‘just another idea’.

After a lot of mini brainstorm sessions, discussions, post-its, quick pitches and drawings, we finally ended up with a lot of valuable ideas and a tailored customer journey. The most challenging part was the fact that we needed to keep in mind that we were mainly thinking and designing for the customers. By asking “What does this mean for the customer?” again and again, we tried to maintain focus on the right things.

Ultimately, after a very intensive 24h ideation and prototype session, we ended up with a clear concept. This concept should improve the digital trade experience of the customer and the dealer and make it that much more convenient.

A big step up in customer-centricity

The new digital trade-in concept exists of 2 crucial parts, one responsive web app for the customers and one mobile app for the dealers.

By using the responsive web app (a typical stocklocator of a dealer or brand), the customer navigates through used cars or configures a new one. Once done and satisfied, the customer is prompted with the trade-in option. By only scanning a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), entering the mileage and the date of first use along with the indication of the condition of the car (e.g. bad/ok/good), the customer gets a value indication in just minutes. If the customer decides to continue the journey at a dealer, he or she can do it without any hassle. The app generates a personal code that contains valuable insights for the dealer about the past journey of the customer. Some examples are the cars that the customer has browsed or configured.

With this personal code, the dealer can continue the trade-in using the mobile app. The dealer can perform a physical check on the car to get a more fine-tuned price. Once both sides are satisfied, the deal can be closed.

Pitch perfect and the moment of truth

The concept was really interesting, but there was another challenge ahead. How were we going to squeeze our 24h journey into a three-minute pitch? We decided to only focus on the core of our concept:
  • Guiding the customer through the whole trade-in process by connecting offline and online.
  • Providing the dealer insights of their customer (customer behavior regarding configured cars, browsed used cars, …).
  • Keeping the whole trade-in process very open and transparent: the value/price of a car would adjust in real time.
 In a blasting performance, our colleague from SalesCre8 Alexander Kreis pitched and demonstrated the idea to the audience in German, focusing on the key points described above. Once we and everyone else had pitched their ideas, the voting started. After 5 minutes, voting closed and the announcement of the winner(s) began. After a very exciting couple of minutes, it was clear that we managed to win silver. The intensive teamwork resulted in a 2nd place and created new business opportunities for SalesCre8. A 24h-long story short: it was a very intensive, impressive, interesting and inspiring experience for the whole team.

Takeaways

The major takeaways we definitely won’t forget are:

  • Be ready to kill your darlings. Everybody has their own specific ideas, but you have to learn to let go sometimes. It’s okay if your ideas get challenged!
  • Open-mindedness is key, luckily our team members (3 dealers from Schmolck included) were open to feedback. That’s also why the ideation and prototyping sessions resulted in a very focused and customer-oriented solution.
  • You’re not designing for yourself, but for the customers: focus on customer value.
  • It can be very cold in Germany in February (down to -12 ℃).
  • Some of our colleagues slept for only 2 hours or not at all during the hackathon.
  • We left our dinner at a fancy restaurant just to finish our prototype.
  • The smiles we saw at the end of the hackathon were worth every kilometer we traveled to Würzburg (which is about 500km).

As a Mobile Solution Engineer at ACA IT-Solutions, Yakup is involved in agile mobile development, where he delivers creative input for realizing usable and likeable mobile applications. With a huge interest in mobile technology, Yakup develops Native, Hybrid and Responsive Web Apps.

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