Hackathons inspire images of coders, software developers, and inventors working feverishly at computers to discover the next big thing. Likely, it’s associated with technology firms and startups – and lots of coffee. You might not associate hackathons with banking, but TD is using "Tech Jams" to foster and develop innovation across its employee base.
TD Bank hosted its first U.S.-based #ThinkDigital Tech Jam from February 8-10 at its campus in Mt. Laurel, NJ. The challenge? Identifying digital and mobile solutions to help employees do their jobs more efficiently, more effectively and/or deliver a better experience to bank Customers.
The event drew participants from 20 different lines of business for an immersive 40-hour session of ideation, design, and presentation. TD's Tech Jams are non-technical by design, a strategy that encourages inclusion, innovation, and participation from all parts of the bank. Diverse perspectives bring a wide range of talents to spur a grassroots movement toward agile and digital thinking. "The financial services business is very much a technology business today," said Janice Withers, CIO, TD Bank, and one of the executive judges at the Tech Jam. "The more our technology folks understand the business, and our business folks understand technology, the better solutions we'll be able to drive."
Teams worked long hours, from Thursday evening to Saturday afternoon, developing concepts, testing their ideas, and creating viable solutions which were presented to two rounds of senior executive judges at the bank. While only one team could be named Grand Champion, many felt the experience of the Tech Jam was its own reward. "The biggest takeaway for me is the critical thinking," said participant Sagar Kumar. "Tech Jam really takes you out of your comfort zone to know what your strengths are, and know what your weaknesses are. The experience has been amazing."
All of the concepts will be shared with the business areas they could impact, and will be considered for development; similar Tech Jams from TD in Canada have led to bank-wide implementation of winning concepts.