A platform that uses data analytics to predict volume for current and future orders was the winning solution at this year's Fung Group 'Hackathon', which calls on students to develop the next product that will address real-life business challenges in the supply chain.

The Hackathon is the second for the Fung Group, and brought together 70 students and professionals with expertise in UI/UX design, programming and data science in addition to industry partners and experts from across Fung Group. They collaborated and prototyped solutions across two and a half days at the group's Hong Kong headquarters.

The winner of the competition, dubbed 'Hack the Rack', was a solution called FR8-Mate which is a model with a dashboard component that uses data analytics to combine order data and third-party shipping APIs to predict volume for current and future orders.

The result of a centralised system is better order tracking and visibility, which in turn increases container utilisation to 90% and above, at the same time, allowing a more transparent price negotiation with carriers.

Team representative Matt O'Connor, and co-founder of Reboot.AI said: "Big corporations like Fung Group that embrace data-driven solutions are poised to build lasting competitive advantages. More companies should jump on the trend to harness the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence for more impactful business strategy and success."

Participants were divided into 14 groups and presented with four business challenges to choose from: develop a freight demand prediction model to help logistics providers optimise capacity and shipment plans; identify a way to increase convenience retail sales through customer segmentation; streamline quality control processes on the factory line; and optimise digital image search capabilities.

"Technology is continuously changing the way we live, work and learn," says Hau Lee, chairman of the board of Fung Academy, an internal think tank of Fung Group. "All businesses must rethink how they work and operate to harvest the opportunities in today's new digital-first environment. Fung Group continues to evolve and is embracing a new mindset and culture based on collaboration and partnerships with the broader innovation community in Hong Kong and around the world. Hack The Rack is just one piece of a much bigger picture around our strategy and the leadership role we want to play in shaping the future of our industry."

The first runner-up developed an app with an optimised online-catalogue interface that groups and categorises images using deep learning technology. The enhanced search functionality makes it easier for designers to look for images using their own language and provides them with inspiration on upcoming trends.

Another feature of the app digitalises the process of garment measuring by incorporating mixed reality technology into the process with Microsoft's HoloLens. The app effectively enhances the productivity and efficiency of the users with the help of the voice commands functionality, which allow users to give instructions and commands control based on the focus of their gaze.

The event was partnered by Hong Kong consultancy ThinkCol, and sponsored by Microsoft. The judging panel comprised representatives from CK Hutchison Holdings, Microsoft Hong Kong and Macau, Omnistream Co., and Li & Fung.