Artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are just beginning to see widespread adoption, development and application. As a result, we are beginning to see the innovations it powers morphing large-scale industries across the world, unveiling benefits and value additions to organizations and the final consumer and completely transforming the marketplace. It is against this backdrop that Sysco LABS hosted its inaugural Hackathon, “OVERCLOCKED 2019” for developers across its offices with a focus on machine learning.
The finale saw teams developing and presenting their solutions to an esteemed panel of judges consisting of Uthayasanker Thayasivam, Ph.D., an expert in machine learning and how it applies to data science and big data mining; Sankha Muthu Poruthotage, Ph.D., co-founder of Linear Squared and a force behind many of Sri Lanka’s large-scale analytics initiatives; and Hiranya Samarasekera, VP Engineering - Head of Enterprise Architecture Group (EAG) at Sysco LABS.
“OVERCLOCKED 2019 was a phenomenal success, with the participation of more than 80 software engineers divided into 14 teams, competing against each other to solve challenges in the foodservice industry using machine learning,” Hiranya said. “This event gave our engineers an opportunity to showcase their business problem solving acumen and prowess in the use of machine learning’s techniques and latest tools.”
Team ‘Rotis’ consisting of Keet Sugathadasa, Roshan Alwis, Dulaj Atapattu, Indunil Asanka, Heshan Sandamal and Chamin Wickramarathna emerged as winners, with their intelligent customer support and incident manager that can learn from all its interactions with customers, continuously improving its service. The solution relieves the strain that support requirements play on organizations as they try to scale.
Team “We Are Here for the Hoodie” which included Jeyanthasingam Jegasingam, Tharmarajasingam Thuvarakan, Deshani Geethika, Rashindrie Perera, Kailayapathy Suthagar and Isham Mohamed, received the runners-up title for their development of a customer/potential customer profiling solution. A profile solution that predicts future trends in customer eating habits could have massive impacts on Sysco’s business, allowing the development of better long-term relationships with customers.
Hackathons present participants with a valuable opportunity to demonstrate their creativity and skill outside of just the regular work context, allowing them to solve problems in an area pertaining to the chosen industry.
“I believe the greatest danger of artificial intelligence is the fact that people assume they understand it very early on,” said Team ‘Rotis’ member Keet. “Learning is a never-ending process. The hackathon definitely involved a great deal of learning and tested our ability to use machine learning to solve the problems we face in the industry.”
On the back of a successful inaugural event, Sysco LABS aims to make hackathons a permanent fixture in its annual event calendar.