What is Tesco's TJam?

Tesco gave a number of technology start-ups an opportunity to pitch their wares at last month's London Technology Week, as part of the supermarket's series of 'TJam' events.

Future retail technology ideas were pitched to representatives across the Tesco business in a five-minute speed-dating format, and the event was reportedly viewed as another success for the grocer's colleagues.

Paul Wilkinson, head of technology research at Tesco Labs, used the company's official blog to explain the initiative, which he says has directly influenced some of the supermarket tech team's work in the past.

"One of the start-ups said it gives them an opportunity to refine and practice their pitch as well as get a good variety of questions and feedback from the mixed background audience," he noted.

"Some of the attendees don't even have companies yet, just ideas that they are working on which might become start-ups soon."

Wilkinson added: "In the past we've gone on to put demonstrations from companies we've met at TJam into our Tesco lab and tested a couple on some of our websites so who knows what might happen with the companies that we met last week."

According to Wilkinson, who participated in Essential Retail's recent roundtable on how technology is impacting the role of store staff in modern retail, some of the start-ups wanted to discuss developer APIs while others asked about the Tesco IFTTT [If This Then That] channel. There was interest around how to build apps that link into the Tesco ecosystem, which gave Tesco further opportunity to investigate how it can improve the shopping experience via the use of new technology.

It seems Tesco is creating a number of opportunities to allow its workforce's ideas and suggestions – as well those of the tech start-up community – to be introduced to the wider organisation.

Speaking at the Essential Retail roundtable, in March, Wilkinson revealed that Tesco uses Microsoft's enterprise social media tool Yammer to share ideas around the business.

"Store managers and the people who work in store are out there serving customers every day so there is an opportunity for us to get their knowledge and ideas fed back into the wider business – and platforms like Yammer make this much easier," he said.

"We invite store colleagues to take part in events like our hackathons too so their ideas can be brought to life."

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