As per Digital strategist, Peter Thomson “The brightest minds of the next generation are spending their weekends building software in hackathons, quitting their jobs to build interesting startups and being investing in by incubators and accelerators. It’s a brave new world, but large companies are still looking for ways to become more agile.”
One of the most famous and raucous scenes from the movie “The Social Network”, about the birth and rise of Facebook, is a hackathon, where fueled by youthful exuberance and, other things, a group of hackers competes to develop code for server intrusion, which was inspired by OpenBSD’s apparent first use of the term referred to a cryptographic development event.
There is a paradigm shift in how software is developed, deployed and used. Shortened cycle times, focus on actual use cases and demonstration, Agile methodology, fail fast and learn, take a thread and weave a story. This is the new development cycle, and it is forcing organizations to innovate much more, and to innovate much faster than they ever have. In other words, or in exactly a word, hackathon.
Persistent has a history of utilizing hackathons for innovation and in fact have woven it into our very DNA through events such as our annual global Semicolons hackathon. But we don’t limit this to just ourselves; this culture has resulted not only in some great offerings we now take it to customers and helping our customers develop their own solutions to problems. Recent examples include:
- Appian Center of Excellence Hackathon where working with customers we created a solution to automate the complete deployment for any Appian app, utilizing public APIs to inspect and import packages without requiring log-in by a deployment team members. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDLQ0jcarpA
- Race2Insights hackathon with the State of Ohio where teams of college students working with Persistent engineers used open data in visually compelling ways to provide actionable intelligence to state agencies
- Digital Pune hackathon where hundreds of coders competed over 24 hours to create solutions for some of the city’s most vexing problems, such as a smart water distribution and leakage detection system that was immediately implemented by the city agency.
We use hackathons to drive innovation both internally and with our customers by embracing core philosophies and practices that we employee every day throughout our business:
- Providing smart minds the opportunity to use nonstandard and potentially radical approaches to creatively solve customer challenges
- Embracing the latest digital disruption to accelerate change, customer centricity, agility and time to market
- Breaking typical organizational silos by bringing in people from various departments/ business units, confining them to time & space and challenging them with customer challenges
- Making it fun!!! That means a combination of great food, music and fun with team
We see organizations that embrace hackathons as a strategic tool are better at building a culture of innovation and that software engineers participating in hackathons are able to lead the change better than those who don’t.
Recently for one of our customer in the insurance domain we have conducted Hackathon for 3 business groups with the help of cross-functional teams. The challenge was to come out with a new design on how agents process claims. Within the space of 48 hours, Persistent team delivered a model that went far beyond the original scope, totally redesigning the way agents could monitor various claims and interact with the insurance company, effectively eliminating the need for various complex communication cycles and data set repetition. The experience energized the group and opened the new set of business possibility to engage customers, claim adjusters and the power of digital to transform their business.
We’re proud that we’ve been recognized as India’s Coding Powerhouse for two years in a row! We believe challenging norms and the spirit of competition and discovery is vital; organizations must embrace the Hackathon culture and use it as a potent tool to create an innovative organization that can delight its customers.
Hackathons. Think of what we can we accomplish together!