Hack Day 101 (and why it’s essential for your business)

Employee led innovation is nothing new.

Google 20% time is acknowledged for producing a number of key product innovations like Gmail and Docs (although it’s understood they have officially killed off that perk). Over at Facebook, founder Mark Zuckerberg spoke extensively of “The Hacker Way” in their IPO filing to the SEC.

What is not as widely known is that employee time can be traced all the way back to Post-WW2 in the United States. It was 1948 and multinational manufacturer 3M instigated “15% time“. In 1974 an employee by the name of Art Fry used this time to develop a means of applying an adhesive to the back of a piece of paper and the post-it note was born.

In addition to the Silicon Valley titans, several companies have embraced employee time to foster innovation, all with pretty cool names: BlueSky (Apple), [in]Cubator (LinkedIn), Hackweek (Dropbox), The Garage (Microsoft), ShipIt (Atlassian).

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The Walkupinator – a one touch ticket logging system

Introducing the latest addition to the Technology Services team – The Walkupinator – a device which simplifies the way we log our tickets from people just dropping by. 

The Technology Services team at REA Group is extremely proud of the walk up service we provide to our staff, however logging tickets for our walk ups has become problematic.

Innovation HubAfter a busy morning on the service desk in the Innovation Hub it’s often hard to recall who we’ve assisted or what the issue was. With over 550 people at REA HQ, things get busy. To solve an issue that has consistently plagued our team, I’ve created a system that utilises existing technology to allow users to simply swipe a card to log a ticket. This system, which we’ve named “The Walkupinator” can save the person manning the service desk up to an hour a day, as well as saving time for our internal colleagues – or as we like to think of them, our customers.

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Hack it Forward: Time to Give Back

In October 2014 we ran our 17th Hack Day event at REA, this time focusing on social issues and hacking on outcomes to benefit the wider community. We partnered primarily with 4 charitable organisations:

In addition, participants were encouraged to collaborate with other community groups or charities on a project of their choice. 10 teams were formed in total with a focus on delivering real value to people in need.

How did we go? See for yourself:

We blogged the entire two day experience via Storify:
https://storify.com/REA_Group/hack-it-forward-oct-2-3-2014

The transformation of a Customer Contact Centre using Agile and Lean

How REA challenged Call Centre preconceptions

There is a lot of bad press about Customer Contact Centres; callers usually dislike having to deal with one, and people working in them are rarely proud or engaged with their jobs.

But is it possible to create a Contact Centre where callers are left happy and valued, and the people working within them feel empowered and enjoy going to work?

And is it possible to achieve all that while moving the key metrics that matter to the business?

Yes, yes and definitely Yes! But you will have to be bold. You’re going to have to try a few unorthodox moves when it comes to Call Centre Operations. Continue reading

The Hack Day story

Hack Day at REA is something that started very small in IT 4 years ago and has grown to become the showpiece of culture, collaboration and innovation for the whole company. It took us a while to get there but we’ve cracked the formula for awesome Hack Days and now have an ever growing roster of visitors coming to see how we do it. We put together a little video that showcases our Hack Day story. We hope you enjoy it and it sparks some ideas on how to do it in your own company. Share your own Hack Day story in the comments below!

Protecting your AWS keys with Credulous

Every week, AWS credentials leak into the wild and are used to mine bitcoins or worse.

In April 2014, DrawQuest closed down after a security breach in which their Amazon Web Services credentials were used to create hundreds of EC2 instances, probably for mining bitcoins. DrawQuest decided they could no longer trust that their core data wasn’t compromised, and closed their doors.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a tool that could help prevent this sort of thing happening? Well, now there is — enter Credulous.

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