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Guest blog: Lessons learned from #intrumhack

Louise Karlander, Head of Innovation at Intrum shares her experiences of Intrumhack. Intrumhack was organised 2018 in order to discover new innovations for financial wellbeing.

Louise Karlander / May 04, 2018

The first ever Intrumhack was held in April and was a great success; here is a recap of the two intensive days and how it helped us to understand that any industry can be disrupted.

Intrum joined forces with Tieto, IBM and Nordic Finance Innovation to create the first hackathon for financial wellbeing at the Tieto headquarters in Espoo. The hackathon had 13 participating teams from 3 countries. Teams had 48 hours and one challenge.

As in any other industry today, the pace of transformation of our industry is increasing rapidly. We are working on transforming our business every day. However, the transformation that we do day to day usually has an inside out view. With the hackathon, we got an outside in perspective of our business. With many young people participating, we also got a millennial view.

The hackathon is part of a series of innovation activities that we are driving within Intrum. We started with a number of educational movies about digitalization, continued with an internal innovation challenge that created over 100 ideas across all our countries. That was followed by an internal hackathon and then this external hackathon with our partners. We believe that doing things in partnership with strong partners is a great way of executing parts of our innovation agenda and for that reason, we decided to do the hackathon together with Tieto, IBM and Nordic Finance Innovation.

So what took place during the two days?

Blood, sweat and tears! Jokes aside, it was fascinating to see the participants ideas come to life. No one knew very much about the credit management business or the financial services world when they started, but their ideas were planted, nurtured and grown during the two intense days. Out of the box thinking together with an outside in perspective really created ideas that are not in our regular comfort zone. However, because of that the ideas have great potential to take us to the next level.

Day one started with introductions, goodie bags and mandatory hackathon hoodies and continued with inspirational speakers kick-starting the event. Mentors, both internal and external, were on hand to support the participants over the two days. The mentors were coaching on a wide variety of subjects ranging from internal processes and systems to business models as well as how to use IBM Watson to enhance their ideas.

In the afternoon of the first day, we had invited a number of senior executives from us and from our partners to mentor the teams. During that time, the teams were able to test and perfect their pitching skills. To introduce a bit of fun during the day, we offered yoga sessions and the sauna was open to all through the evening, which was very appreciated by the participants.

Day two started with breakfast, recap and an inspirational keynote speech by Laila Pawlak Co-Founder and CEO of Singularity University Nordic. She talked about how exponential development of technology and digitalization are affecting humans, businesses and society at large. Then hacking and mentoring continued until the last minute.

Personally, I think it was extremely interesting to see the participants and their ideas evolve and see how they took on the challenge. The announced winners had a community-based approach to supporting debt-stricken customers. What’s interesting is that most teams didn’t offer their solutions in portals but with chatbots and smartphone features. All the ideas that came through the hackathon are very valuable for us and we are now looking in how to test and realize ideas in the real world.

One of the greatest learnings that we take from this event... how easy it is to disrupt any business. Most participants came in with no knowledge of the industry. They studied it for a couple of hours and came up with brilliant ideas to help our customers. Some ideas that came through the hackathon can be connected to ideas from our innovation challenge and internal hackathon to develop them further while other ideas can be tested on their own.

Tieto XHub team is expert in arranging hackathons together with partners and it was for us - since this is our first open hackathon – imperative that we have a partner that is able to support us with strategic perspective on open innovation and all the arrangements. The help was invaluable and we could not have done the hackathon without them.

One thing that is for sure is that this is not the end of the journey, but the start of a great adventure for Intrum. Will we do it again? Absolutely! The perspectives gained over these days are invaluable when transforming one of the world’s oldest businesses. We need the input from the outside ourselves to stay relevant so that we don’t just digitalize existing processes and business models, but produce real digitalization that actually transforms the business and the business models to ensure future success.

So stay tuned for the future!

Check out the video summary of the intensive two days of learning and innovating.


To learn more about the hackathon and the winning ideas go to

Louise Karlander
Head of Innovation, Intrum

Louise is in charge of innovation at Intrum Group and works with finding innovative solutions to enable the company to transition to the digital era. As an expert in payments she is actively working on finding ways to use the PSD2 framework to enhance the customer experience and making it easy for the consumer to pay their outstanding debts. Having a strong background in banking and finance, Louise is driven by creating financial experiences for all ages in the digital era. 


Louise Karlander

Head of Innovation, Intrum

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