Haas Team Takes Second in Haas Tech Challenge for Gap Inc.

Seven top MBA programs developed innovative strategies for Gap Inc. to enable employees to use collaboration technology as part of the third annual Haas Tech Challenge Nov. 8 to Nov. 9 at the Haas School.

Harvard Business School’s team took the top prize in the challenge, which was hosted by the Berkeley MBA students’ Haas Technology Club. The Haas team—captain Joe Lukasiewicz and Sammit Adhya, both MBA 15, and Caroline Bas and Anil Jindia, both MBA 14—placed second. The Stanford Graduate School of Business took third place.

For the challenge, Gap CIO Tom Keiser and VP of Enterprise Infrastructure Naveen Zutshi asked students to explore the “Consumerization of IT,” which has led employees to demand the same easy access to information and flexible collaboration tools in their workplace that they have in their personal lives. The case challenged students to help Gap identify the most promising opportunities to provide a seamless collaboration experience to employees while managing issues such as asset management, security, mobile device management, and cost containment.

Other Tech Challenge sponsors included IBM and VMware, with support from Haas and the Fisher Center for Management and Technology’s CIO Leadership Program.

Prior to the event, corporate participants collaborated with Haas Adjunct Professor Andrew Isaacs and student volunteer case writers, who wrote the case for the competition. Evgeniya Kalenykh and Philipp Suchan, both MBA 14, were co-chairs of the event.

On Friday morning, Dean Rich Lyons delivered an opening keynote on technology innovation and IBM’s Jay Subrahmonia spoke on the future of cognitive computing. After Gap’s case was presented, student teams were given a day to come up with solutions.

The Haas team proposed three ideas for Gap: integrate with IBM’s Watson Engagement Advisor product to capitalize on the growing trend of collecting unstructured data; use and apply Big Data concepts as an overarching layer within a cloud-based architecture, and promote a company-wide culture of collaboration.

The winning HBS team presentation focused on gamification techniques, or game thinking in non-game contexts, to improve Gap’s intelligence by encouraging employees to collect data in a fun, social way. Aside from using employee-generated data, the students recommended Gap use IBM’s Watson technology, an artificially intelligent computer system, with manual analytics to create predictive insights.

Haas Tech Challenge team members Sammit Adhya and Joe Lukasiewicz, both MBA 15, and Caroline Bas and Anil Jindia, both MBA 14.