Development Community

Apr 27, 2023


Two Days of Innovation, Connection, and Relaxation – Elisa Camp Hack 2023

Elisa Digital


Get 30 people together for two days to innovate in the spirit of Elisa’s core mission, and magic will happen. There’s also sauna, lots of food and inspirational antique furniture.

The very first Elisa Camp Hack took place this March on the theme of digital sustainability. A group of thirty people – Elisa employees and outside participants such as international students – gathered together to come up with innovations in sync with Elisa’s core mission.

The venue for the two-day event was the historically and culturally rich milieu of Kallio-Kuninkala in Järvenpää. Close to nature and peaceful, Kallio-Kuninkala provided the hackers a genuine chance to escape their regular work surroundings and really concentrate on teamwork and innovation, as well as a little relaxation.

“We wanted to experiment with whether this kind of event would bring Elisa people together after a long stint of mostly working remotely. At the same time, we saw a good opportunity for novel digital innovations and strengthening our core mission as a company”, says Kristofer Pasanen.

Pasanen is one of the people at Elisa behind Camp Hack, who have been making arrangements for the event since last autumn.

“In addition to gathering our people together, we also wanted to break down existing team structures for the event. That would let attendees create new work relationships in multidisciplinary teams, and I’m sure it also showed in the quality of the innovations”, Pasanen continues.

Diverse problems, diverse solutions

Although the basic premise for the innovations was sustainability through digital solutions, the teams came up with a plethora of ideas surrounding it. The final hacks could be roughly divided into two camps (pun intended): social sustainability and energy efficiency.

“The teams clearly thought a lot about both hardware- and software-based solutions, took cues on how to use entertainment as a tool, and pondered issues such as wellbeing, mobility, and elder care. The diversity of the subjects and the solutions was incredible”, Kristofer Pasanen says.

The teams also competed for two prizes, one selected by a jury and another by the hackers themselves. The jury weighed in on each customer problem and solution, the core customer, the value to the customer, and the overall value proposition. The jury was instructed to concentrate more on the elegance and usefulness of the hacks and less on the business angle, emphasising learning over profit.

Amazingly, both prizes went to the same team, which Aino Horsma, an Experience Design Leader at Elisa, was a part of. “We had a really strong team, and we put a lot of effort into finding the right idea through using existing research. We found a really clearly defined customer group, focused tightly on that segment, and used our time on refining the idea instead of building a prototype and other technical stuff”, Horsma explains.

“That was definitely a winning strategy!”

Best Finnish food, best hackathon ever

Another member of the winning team, Abdul Qadir Ahmed Abbasi, is an Erasmus scholarship student studying for his master’s degree at Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology. Abbasi is studying sustainability and advanced software engineering, and he also works for Elisa, so Camp Hack was just about the perfect event for him to network and show his chops.

“I am really fond of our innovation because it combines social, ecological, economical and digital sustainability. We found a definite answer to the question of how to make people feel less disconnected in this digital world that we live in”, Abbasi says.

As much as his team’s innovation, Abbasi, a hackathon veteran, was excited about the whole event.

“The building we gathered in used to be owned by artists, and everything was so inspiring – from the overall ambience to the paintings, antique furniture and surrounding nature. The food was the best Finnish food I’ve had, the sauna was super relaxing, and the DJ played really inspiring music”, Abbasi says.

“I liked seeing how Finns work and celebrate together, and we had a good mix in our team of developers, designers and digital services specialists. This was the best hackathon I have been to.”

Will Camp Hack return?

Both the Elisa organisers and the participating hackers were of the mind that Camp Hack should definitely take place again.

“It was especially refreshing that there were also students and other non-Elisa people attending. Every team came up with true innovations, in part because of the outside perspective and the focus on objectives other than purely corporate ones. Cross-pollination is great!” Aino Horsma says.

“Everyone respected each other’s opinions despite our differences in experience, and that was one of the key factors why this was such an excellent event. Make this happen more than once a year!”, demands Abdul Qadir Ahmed Abbasi.

Kristofer Pasanen is quite optimistic that the desire for new Camp Hacks will come true, as the organisers themselves were also pleased with everything – especially the overall atmosphere.

“The hackers were supportive toward one another, and if someone was a bit nervous during the initial pitch session, the final presentation was so much better because of all the peer support”, Pasanen says.

“People really immersed themselves in the teamwork. There wasn’t a single hacker who stepped outside to handle a work situation or read their email. Everyone was 100% present in the situation. When you get out of your daily surroundings into a place such as Camp Hack, magic will happen!”, he continues.

“It is somewhat telling that one of the hackers came up to me to inform me about the lack of variety in the marker pens. They immediately stated that if this is the worst problem we have, everything is being handled better than ‘well’.”

All photos by Sakari Volanen.

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