PickMe partners Google for Gen AI powered product development

Monday, 6 May 2024 03:16 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Hackathon in progress, participants discussing with resource people

Prompt Engine, winners of the 2-day hackathon

PickMe hackathon participants with Searce team

PickMe took a leap forward in its product development strategy with a section of its developers, coders, business analysts, and staffers from different fields such as operations, account management, engineering, BI, Data science, QA, and Product, going into a huddle last week for a 2 day hackathon at Water’s Edge.

“What was unusual about this meet was, while hackathons are usually for coders, this time we had a gamut of different disciplines, putting their heads together in a high speed race to develop real life solutions for the PickMe platform,” says PickMe Chief Technology Officer Gayath Ratnayake. 

PickMe staffers who participated in the high-speed marathon on 26 and 27 April, formed into six member teams. Each team was provided with a need statement related to transportation or food delivery, to come up with a solution using Generative AI. 

PickMe, who partnered Google and Searce India, for this event, considered it the ideal opportunity to push for generative AI solutions on their platform. “Engaging with next generation tech models cannot be done in stages or piecemeal. So, we decided to throw our participants in the deep end and see what they come up with. The energy and outcomes surpassed all expectations. Most projects developed during the hackathon address real-world opportunities in the everyday product, tech, and operational roadmaps. This marks a significant shift, as many of these projects are now being considered for commercial viability by PickMe,” says Searce India Vice President Ankit Sinha.

Generative AI is a subset of artificial intelligence, which broadly encompasses the idea of machines performing tasks that typically need human intelligence, such as decision-making and natural language processing (NLP). These models employ machine learning methods to analyse and create new data.

“What this means for PickMe is that within just a matter of two days we have changed the course of how we think about our products and how fast we can deliver them to our partners and the general public. What usually takes months or sometimes years in research and development can be cut down by almost 50% in terms of time and energy. Therefore, all the effort we expend in creating solutions for everyone who engages with our platform can be fine tuned and distilled into neat packages to maximise human potential. Since we are a company that operates in the shared economy, all our solutions and products go towards creating value for the citizens of our country. Digitalisation and shared economy are the way to create efficiency within a system that is desynchronised,” PickMe founder CEO Jiffry Zulfer said.

To maximise the understanding of Generative AI amongst attendees’, PickMe integrated technical presentations from Google Cloud into the event schedule. The company also began building anticipation for the hackathon early, through proactive internal promotions. The agenda was designed to include not only substantive work but also fun and celebratory elements.

The Gen AI infrastructure and services were provided by Google. Regional representatives from Searce were present as Gen AI resource personnel to assist developing teams to ideate and build applications. Solutions provided by teams “AI Artisans” and team “Oracles” became first and second runners up respectively. Team “Prompt Engine” emerged the winner for their intervention related to driving better discoverability and experience in the food marketplace. The panel of judges comprising Ankit Sinha, VP of Searce, PickMe CEO Jiffry Zulfer, COO Isira Perera, CTO Gayath Ratnayake, and Head of Product Jeremy Carvalho were unanimous in their view that the teams performed exceptionally well, and the selection of winners was an extremely tough. 

The VP of Searce said that the winning team stood out because they were able to articulate their business case quite precisely, so that everyone was together on the problem definition. “Another thing this team did extremely well was, they used the technology sensibly and showed proof of how the technology was solving things, which classical i.e. non-Gen AI tools were not able to do. They also came up with a roadmap. They will essentially go into production in the real world.”

The participants collaborated closely with the Google Cloud team before the event to brainstorm and refine ideas, which helped to enhance their outputs during the hackathon. The judges’ evaluation criteria included comprehensiveness of the proposed solution in terms of viable proofs of concept, if it was realistic, and how implementable it was within a timeframe. How effectively the teams could explain their problem, and present their product demo within the allotted time, the extent to which the solution upgrades customer experience, financial resilience such as saving money, and how well they used Generative AI tools. The teams were also required to outline if their solution could have been achieved without AI technology.

Anjali Bhagya from the winning team says using Gen AI would help PickMe move to the next level. “I have worked at PickMe for a long time and from then to now we did our innovations manually. But working with Gen AI is like talking to a person, it has the ability to think. It helps to easily come up with solutions that can enhance our customer experiences as well as generate higher revenues. By coming up with solutions using Gen AI we will be able to move PickMe to another level.”