Taking business development to extremes

This month 36 Aegon employees were locked in an industrial wasteland for 24 hours, put under scrutiny, deprived of sleep, and tasked to work without break. We’re talking about this year’s Aegon Hackathon…

Middle of the night at the Aegon Hackathon

Think 'hackathon' and you may envisage a group of hoody youths attempting to hack corporate data. But the Aegon Hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest) saw the company's brightest minds devise out-of-the-box solutions and concepts to add customer value.

The setting was a disused warehouse in a ramshackle Budapest industrial zone. 36 Aegon employees, carefully selected from a shortlist of 177 potentials, from Aegon in The Netherlands, Spain, the UK, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Asia and the Czech Republic.

Over 24 hours, they opened themselves up to none-stop scrutiny by external experts, in-house coaches, mentors and leaders from Aegon's Center of Excellence for Digital.

3-minute pitch

"After 24 hours non-stop work, and for some people, absolutely no sleep, the time came to reap the rewards of our work," said 'hacker', Age Huitema. Each team received just 3-minutes to pitch the work they had done, demonstrate the prototype and explain the business case, followed by five minutes of cross examination before the jury made their final decision.

Jury members assessed how well the proposals met the criteria provided, including business impact; customer focus; and the quality of the hack. Other considerations include the timescale for implementation; resources needed; relevancy for other country units, and (re)usability in multiple units.

Investment of time and money

Almost all of the ideas pitched had potential for future development, however the concept which was judged to offer the most potential for adding customer value was a virtual personal financial coach.

The team's initial idea was scaled down significantly during the Hackathon after input from the coaches, who were keen to ensure the team was able to create a prototype within 24 hours. The concept will now receive financial support and further development from Analytics, Business development, Digital marketing and User Experience consultants from Aegon's own Center of Excellence for Digital.

"The fact that within a few months this solution could be available to our customers is so cool," said Huitema.