SPH Digital walks away with top prize at Digital Media Asia Hack 2014

SINGAPORE - After two gruelling days at the Digital Media Asia Hack (DMA.Hack), the idea of "Beans" came out tops in the hackathon organised by World Association of Newspapers and Publishers (WAN-IFRA), SPH Digital and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Newsplex Asia at the Microsoft Auditorium on 16 November.

The team from SPH Digital consisting of Lim Huishan, Huang Jianwei, Eric Tan, Sue Kah Yong and Yao Dianchen dreamt up Beans - an app that innovatively uses the concept of machine learning to serve readers with news articles. As readers continue to use Beans, it would eventually put together a personalised "playlist" to better suit them as they continue to use the product.

The team also proposed revenue models for Beans, such as micro-payment for full access - where readers can pay a small amount of money to get limited time access to premium content behind the paywall.

Commending the team on the simplicity of their idea, Mr Alan Soon, Country Manager of Yahoo Singapore and Managing Editor of Yahoo Southeast Asia, said, "The idea of playlists is easy to understand, since everyone knows how a Spotify playlist work. Apart from the playlist, their revenue model was clear and complete with their future expansion plans. They even made a logo that had a clear corporate identity."

Recounting the team's experience, Ms Lim Huishan, team leader of Beans and Business Intelligence Manager at SPH Digital, said: "It was an interesting experience to see all the different teams having different interpretations of what the 'Search and Discovery' theme meant. We were honoured to be accorded the top prize, but the energy and vitality of everyone really surprised us."

Another team from SPH Digital, Feedictive, clinched 4th place at the hackathon. The team consisted of AsiaOne webknowledgist Sean Yap, team leader Gary Goh, Vernon Tay, Chua Janwelle and Min Thein Kyaw. They proposed a real-time, live-reporting platform in which journalists would be able to enhance news reports with live updates from user-generated content to deliver the news in a faster and more efficient manner.

While Ms Tan Su-Lin, Deputy Head of SPH Digital and a member on the judging panel, abstained from voting for all three SPH Digital teams which entered in the competition, she said: "It was refreshing to see how some teams dreamt up of new ways to treat an old business. For two days, the participants sat in the driver's seat in terms of innovation instead of being in the back seat consuming news products. As for Beans, their idea was different from the crowd and practical in terms of execution, although more work would need to go into polishing the product."

The winning team walked away with prizes including $2,500 worth of shopping vouchers, Amazon Web Services Activate Portfolio Package and a chance to pitch their idea with venture capitalist Golden Gate Ventures. The top three teams will also be demonstrating their winning solution at the Digital Media Asia conference on 19 November.

The judging panel for DMA.Hack consists of:

- Mr Gilles Demptos, Director, Asia, WAN-IFRA, Singapore
- Ms Tan Su-Lin, Deputy Head, SPH Digital, Singapore
- Mr Alan Soon, Managing Editor, Yahoo! Southeast Asia, Singapore
- Mr Kim Svendsen, Marketing Manager, CCI Europe, Sweden
- Mr Lennon Teng, Co-founder, NotiĻ† (Notiphi), Singapore