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What I Learned From My First Experience of Organizing a Hackathon at Ness

Hackathon at Ness

Hackathons are currently garnering a lot of attention and there are good reasons for their popularity.

Organizations want change, and they want to engage employees in new ways to be able to drive fast changes. Hackathons are a fun, effective way of doing this, and that’s what make them so popular among modern day organizations.

Short duration tech hackathons especially have the potential to bring together energetic and passionate coders to drive innovative ideas in a span of just a few hours, compared against days and months.

Recently we organized a hackathon at Ness named “Gear up 2017”. The outcomes and the overall experience of being a part of the event was so rewarding that I wanted to share some of the key learnings in a blog.

Let me give you a little background on how it all started. It all began with my Program Director walking up to me one day and saying, “Let’s plan to have another hackathon event — start preparing.” Although I had never hosted a hackathon, I was instantly thrilled at the idea and was ready to take the plunge.

Today, as I sit back, reflecting on the entire event, some essential learnings shine through. Here are the key lessons from this event and hackathons in general:

Stimulates Creative Thinking

Hackathons bring out deeper levels of employee creativity that are hard to generate in routine day-to-day scenarios.

This event motivated employees to step out of their routine tasks and use their inherent skills to develop new ideas. The outcome was in the form of some great applications built using the latest technologies.

Also, the platform enables employees to shed inhibitions and take up unconventional challenges.

A colleague of mine, who is usually scared to try his hand at any new technology in client projects, was approached by a QA manager to develop an idea in Android. Even though he did not have a prior experience in Android, he took up the challenge as he wanted to participate in the hackathon. This bears testimony to the fact that the event was instrumental in stimulating creative ideas.

Fosters Collaboration

Hackathons encourage an open culture where employees come together, brainstorm and generate collective ideas. It brings together a range of perspectives and views of working on a problem, which significantly increases the chances of driving the best outcomes.

We saw many cross-functional teams participating at this Ness hackathon. Every phase of the event, right from the planning to execution was a collaborative effort. It certainly helped enhance team spirit and trust.

Drives Customer-Centric Innovation

On a more realistic note, what makes hackathons so effective is the fact that they are focused on specific outcomes and solutions to real problems. It can be about driving better customer experiences, speed or agility, or process optimization that could enable better results for customers.

The ability to drive customer-centric innovation and put innovative ideas to life is an incredible value that hackathons can offer.

This hackathon gave an opportunity to think out of the box and think innovatively in terms of ideas and technologies — which is extremely important for an IT organisation.

At an individual level, I felt that the hackathon offered tons of learning and every participant came out acquiring a new ability. It might have been a new skill or a fresh idea or approach of implementing a concept. At the end of the 30 hours of hacking each techie had something to add to their existing skill sets.

The Hackathon at Ness was more like a game, a sport that infused excitement and enthusiasm in the participants. At the same time, it led to some constructive developments, which not only were a big value add to individual employees, but to the organization.

A big thanks to all the participants, judges, support staff and the audience for making this hackathon event a grand success.

Looking forward to hosting more such Hackathons at Ness. Cheers!