Aviva's annual Hackathon - the customer is key

This blog post is part of our Essential Guide: Use these DevOps examples to reimagine an IT organization

In early November 2015, insurance giant Aviva held its internal hackathon designed to allow the firm’s employees to test out ideas for solutions that could potentially benefit Aviva’s customers.

The hackathon is advertised internally and people across all parts of the business are invited to submit proposals for projects which fill a gap in customer experience.

Across the firm 188 ideas were submitted, which were then subject to an internal vote to decide which ideas would be pursued.

In total 6,370 votes decided which ideas should go forward, and 16 teams were formed of members of the business with mixed disciplines.

Team members who formed the ideas were encouraged to seek out and pair with other people across the business who would best help to develop their project, for example employees with particular IT specialisms.

The teams had 24 hours to develop a wireframe, prototype and pitch for the final ceremony before the winners of the hackathon are decided.

Taking place over three locations, 160 people took part to develop 16 projects and most importantly, eat 80 pizzas between them.

I was lucky enough to be invited to visit the London-based teams at Aviva’s digital garage a stone’s throw away from London’s silicon roundabout.

“It’s a good way of promoting a joined up business and breaks down walls,” Aviva’s innovation manager Richard Wilkinson told me.

“It fits with our strategy of digital first.”

Wilkinson explains each of the ideas are submitted under different categories, and this year seemed heavily focussed on life, health and general pricing.

The projects worked on in the London office included an EU driving guide, a personal insurance vault and ways to provide better customer service when dealing with phone calls:

Driving in the EU – One team developed an app to help drivers when abroad to make laws in other countries clearer and make the travelling experience less stressful.

Policy tracker – The team working on this project told me that a lot of people trying to contact their insurance company will not find the right number they need depending on what department they want to reach.

When I spoke to them they were struggling to pick a name for their proposition, but they wanted to make sure customers get through to the right department no matter which number they call – as people often complain about being passed around.

Aviva Safe (vault) – This proposition is designed for people who lose receipts or have very valuable items such as antiques which are hard to prove ownership of.

Sometimes when items are lost, damaged or stolen it can be difficult to dig up records of purchase and proof of ownership, so users of the Aviva Safe app can take pictures of items and receipts for items to store in their vault so that if anything happens to those items, they can submit these images as evidence to their insurance company.

The team spent their time in the hackathon taking a user-centric UX focussed approach to the application, making it easy to use and giving it a vault like appearance – as the customer is at the heart of the idea.

MyAviva Safe appeared amongst this year’s winners, who were as follows:

•             MyAviva Safe (Idea lead: Hannah Davidson)

•             MyHealth Claim App (Idea lead: Nina Brown)

•             I, Policy (Idea lead: Rod Humby)

•             Automatic System Log-In – 1 password for all (Idea lead: Louise McIver)


The winning propositions may not necessarily go on to be developed as part of Aviva’s product offering, but the process helped the teams try something different, meet new people within their organisation and ultimately ensure they are thinking in a customer-centric way.