First Rend Tech Month

FirstRand Tech Month is a wrap; how we energised our IT and innovation community

Loads of “cool stuff” outcomes in the last month helped drive collaboration, skills and awareness across FirstRand.

Over 2000 people were involved with Wethinkcode, FNB Codefest, Africa DevOps Day, Ideation Day, Leadership Conference, Masterclasses and Xfest.

Aki Anastasiou on CNBC Africa talks to FNB about FirstRand’s “tech month” including Codefest, DevOps Day, Xfest and much more

FNB Tech Innovation Month

Learn your cool stuff Wethinkcode is the first peer to peer, free software training programme in Africa and equips students through a 2 year course which includes 2 internship programmes.

FNB is a co-founding sponsor and provided startup support for the initiative which is a localised version of the highly successful 42 school in Paris, which pioneered the innovative learning model worldwide.

The 2017 internship programme was launched recently (read more here) when students were able to engage sponsors during an open day.

13 Wethinkcode interns will be joining the FirstRand group across various teams; online banking, RMB Foundery, Business IT, HR IT and Premium Core Banking.

A number of Wethinkcode students are also participating in codeFest; building some solutions, hosting a robotics stand during the event and gaining insight to the inner workings and projects of FirstRand.

Recode the Way The World Works

2017 intake now open

Over 1000 IT professionals from across FirstRand attended the learning sprints that ran during 3 months leading up to Codefest.

These masterclasses equipped our coding ninjas with additional skills on Docker, Cloud, Angular and NoSQL through White belt, Green belt and Black belt sessions available at all campuses.

Our IT partners volunteered their experts to do the training – Dimension Data, Entelect, Microsoft, IBM and Couchbase did an excellent job and the initiative is expected to run every year.

These weekly training sessions achieved this year’s “Learn” objective of Codefest.

A number of business people attended the White belt sessions, this shows the increased focus and importance on the enabling technologies behind the current wave of Fintech in the industry.

Industry cool stuff Africa DevOps Day saw over 330 delegates from multiple industries converge on FNB’s Fairlands campus for a day of industry updates, lightning talks and vendor solution demonstrations.

The event has previously been hosted on a rotational basis between Barclays Africa and Standard Bank; FirstRand is proud to have made its contribution to this important initiative that continues to drive skills upliftment in the industry.

Key topics throughout the day showcased learnings from various companies; Lean, Agile and DevOps are driving completely new ways of working in IT and Software Development.

FirstRand Group CEO Johan Burger provided the keynote presentation and highlighted the increased demand on the IT industry to help business stay innovative and competitive in all industries in South Africa.

DevOps Day was a huge collaboration in the banking industry, the movement in South Africa is just getting started.

Business cool stuff Ideation Day is held 1 month before codeFest each year and creates a platform for over 150 business leaders to talk about their challenges so that Codefest teams build useful prototypes.

Read more about the day in more detail – latest technologies such as Blockchain and Virtual Reality were presented and various use cases considered to solve current business problems.

Fittingly the day took place on 1st September, Spring Day, and the intention is that the green shoots of ideation grow and take root in working prototypes at Codefest and then sustainable solutions in business thereafter.

Alphacode and Foundery are also incubating fintech solutions in the FirstRand Group and were on hand during the day to talk about the work they are doing.

RedHat, Britehouse, Microsoft, Entelect and IBM provided industry thought leadership on design thinking, software craftsmanship and enterprise architecture.

Business / IT topics covered credit, branch banking, cyber-security, money management, investments, “regtech” and more – most of these areas were able to get teams together to build prototype solutions at Codefest four weeks later.

What happened at Codefest ideation day?

Leadership cool stuff The FirstRand IT Leadership conference was held over two days at Zebula Game Lodge when over 200 IT leaders from across the group engaged tech thought leaders and grappled with the forces changing the industry.

Watch all the talks and read insights from the conference here; topics included big data, blockchain, open source, satellite connectivity, digital transformation, devops and cyber-security.

The highlight of the conference was a panel discussion hosted by Aki Anastasiou with the CIOs of all the FirstRand franchise brands; RMB, Wesbank, Ashburton and FNB. CIO of FNB, Mo Hassem believes the whole organisation will need to fundamentally change to harness the drivers currently sweeping the IT industry.

Alan Vickery, RMB CIO believes IT should be repositioned as an investment and not a cost; teams should also get better at reusing capabilities that exist in the group.

A highly entertaining evening around a campfire under the African night sky meant that delegates could wind down and network; strengthening the IT leadership network across FirstRand.

FirstRand CIOs panel discussionfull one hour video here

Share Your Cool Stuff

The third additional theme of Codefest in 2016 was the concept of sharing cool stuff; we set up an exhibition inside the same venue and invited all employees to come and engage.

Over 20 big IT topics enabling the group’s 2025 vision and strategy were showcased over 3 days and was attended by over 300 people.

While they were engaging the cool stuff at the stands, the teams building prototypes were working hard in the same room; interesting synergies developed through building and sharing at the same time.

Exhibitors included Branch Banking into the future, Customer life journeys with nav>>, customer 2025, FNB Connect, Nova, Foundery, Alphacode, cyber-security, architecture and the Randburg Computer Centre.

The stands included interactive visual display screens and meant that visitors could properly interact with the cool stuff solutions that make FirstRand a highly innovative financial services company.

On the last day of Codefest week, these stands were be used by the top 10 prototype teams to showcase their apps to the judges.

Build Your Cool Stuff

The culmination of skills, learning, sharing and leadership is the building of next generation technology to solve business problems.

The ideas from ideation day, the new skills from masterclasses and Wethinkcode, the leadership and sharing all drive collaboration and improved engagement; it comes together when teams push through the intense 48 hours coding marathon.

Codefest is both an accelerator and an incubator; teams chase a deadline for prizes plus they have access to other skills from diverse teams that normally don’t work in the same room.

Cumulative problem solving happens in real time at Codefest, it’s also when the blue sky thinking is really tested; are the ideas workable in an experimental, low risk environment?

The 40 working prototypes from codeFest will help business further prioritise projects and assess the potential value of technology solutions that expand, re-use or learn from what was created.

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