Every year, Vodafone holds our company-wide TechBoost competition, where our graduates, apprentices and interns sign up to work on a range of projects. This year, with a group of fantastic Vodafone team members, I helped to develop IntelliFile, a novel, AI-driven approach to tackling one of our most prevalent company pain points: efficient file searching.
In the era of big data, it is challenging for individuals or organisations to keep track of their various documents and files in all their forms. It’s becoming hard for people to even search for what they’re looking for, let alone find it in time to make informed decisions.
‘IntelliFile’ uses advanced analytics and natural language processing (NLP) solutions to proactively detect, parse, analyse and text-mine a corpus of raw text files and documents. Based on the cloud, it scans existing files to extract insights, categorise and improve search results across your file directories. The result? Efficient and intelligent file management, smart search, insights query and extraction to support various use cases.
What a fantastic experience it’s been to work alongside our young talent! I provided initial guidance to kick off the project, but after that, I encouraged the team to run it themselves while offering coaching along the way.
The project has been a resounding success. We ended up winning TechBoost 2022 and I couldn’t be more impressed with the team that’s managed to get it off the ground. Here are a few team members sharing their highlights and learnings from the experience.
One of the best parts of TechBoost was that we had full ownership of our project from start to finish. Being able to work with other graduates and apprentices was really empowering and we all learnt from each other. As many of us joined Vodafone during the pandemic, we’d missed out on a lot of the networking and social elements that being in the office brings. TechBoost gave us a great opportunity to meet other grads and apprentices and collaborate and brainstorm together.
There was a moment about halfway through the project that really stood out to me. We had finished building our proof of concept, with all the basic building blocks in place, and we really wanted to focus on getting IntelliFile integrated with some existing tools inside Vodafone so that we could prove its capabilities.
We reached out to the team running the Global Architecture Forum (GAF) and they were really interested in using our solution. The GAF runs every month, and the team keep all of the recordings of these forums on their own internal website, but due to the large number of recordings and the challenges in searching through videos it can be difficult to search through the entire GAF archive and revisit previous recordings. After taking the time to understand the GAF team’s website and challenges, we were able to integrate IntelliFile into the search capability in just one week, making it possible to transcribe the meeting recordings, generate summaries and keywords for the meetings, and to use a text-similarity search in order to find more relevant results!
This was a real milestone as it was the first time we integrated with an existing Vodafone system, and we really got to demonstrate both the capabilities of our solution, as well as the benefits of the various design choices that we made early on in the project.
IntelliFile offered me a good balance between areas I am already confident in and areas I really wanted to learn more about. I had previously worked with APIs but never built one from scratch so I saw an opportunity. When we had the kick-off meeting for the project, the team immediately gelled and both our sponsor and lead gave us a free reign to tackle the project how we saw fit.
The team’s biggest challenge was figuring out our way of working and managing it with the workload from our day to day jobs. We worked in an agile way where our scrum master rotated every sprint so that everyone had that opportunity to balance a technical challenge with a bit of project management. After the first few sprints we made changes and reflected on the retrospectives to make slight adjustments and became a well-oiled machine.
The best thing about working with the team is how involved and committed everyone was. TechBoost was such a great opportunity to meet graduatess, apprentices and interns from other areas of the business, as well as be exposed to other managers and teams within Vodafone. I really built up my network.
As part of the TechBoost initiative, I was given the opportunity to participate in a few different problem statements. After reading through all of them, it was particularly thrilling to be a part of the solution to a problem that we all face on a daily basis: the horrors of file searching.
I also knew we were in good hands with Jindong as our mentor and Rachid as our sponsor – he’s won TechBoost twice before! What really impressed me was how all of our contributions came together to create a final solution, whether it was back end elements, front end elements or user design.
As we each took on leadership roles leading scrum ceremonies each week, our collaborative skills flourished. I was able to make a significant contribution to the development of the user interface and front-end experience after joining the team, as well as take turns acting as a scrum master on a bi-weekly basis.
Learning from everyone was the best part. I was able to pick up skills that I would not have encountered in my team or on a typical work day. Having Jindong’s support was especially appreciated, and us having the initiative to plan and organise potential collaboration sparked a winning solution. I’m very proud to have been a part of this!
Want to kickstart your career in a collaborative, fun and fast-paced environment? Find out more about graduate opportunities at Vodafone.