What is a hackathon and how can your business benefit from it?
Oct 11, 2018
There are many reasons why a company might need to step outside of its regular set of tasks and seek more diversity. Hackathons are a powerful tool to bring new solutions and ideas to your teams.
What is a hackathon?
Let’s begin with a definition. A hackathon is an event, a contest, primarily focused on competitive programming, but it’s worth noting that the character of those contests became more flexible in the recent years. Its goal is to create projects, solutions, in a competitive environment in a limited time frame.
There exist variations of this formula where the end goal is not as clearly defined, but rather the requirements are concerned with the workflow and methodology. That means a hackathon can be organized to either create a solution to a given problem, or to explore the possibilities of a particular technology or programming language, with the purpose of finished projects depending entirely on their creators’ intentions.
In context of your company, a hackathon can be held for a few hours, or be broken into phases over a few days to easily integrate into working schedule of your employees. As with every type of contests, prizes play a big part here as well.
How can your business benefit from organizing one?
One of the biggest advantages of a hackathon is, in two words, innovation sourcing. The nature of hacking challenges promotes an out-of-the-box approach to workflow. If your company is developing a project or a tool that push to accelerate the progress, organizing a hackathon could provide that opportunity. Competitive environment, when fueled by an attractive prize, helps bring the best solutions in short periods of time.
Improving the workflow
On the contrary, your business might not be in need of a rapid jump with any given project. One prominent example of how effective those events can be in such cases is the fact that Facebook is holding periodic hacking competitions for their employees, with the only requirement being that they work on things not directly connected to their work-related responsibilities.
This is how the like button came to be. The rule is very simple, let your employees’ creativity run free, let them express themselves through code, and your company will see an abundance of new ideas or complete tools that will improve the productivity of whole teams.
Employee retention is another beneficial aspect of hackathons held within a company. While not entirely obvious immediately, this is a very efficient way to retain talented employes thanks to their immediate gain in form of self-development and improvement.
Being stagnant and only focusing on a repetitive set of tasks is a major reason for workers to change jobs. When presented with opportunity to broaden their skill set, however, they are inclined to stay in the same company as they are given more than just the paycheck.
Last, but not least, is the recruitment aspect when looking to organize a hackathon. When such events are not held within the company, but rather open to the public, they turn into a promotional initiative that can be used to source new tech talents, recruit programmers, graphic designers, and more! You can read more about this in our article.
To summarize this concept, a hackathon can be utilized to immediately assess the skills and competence of new candidates, allowing to make a more informed choice when inviting them to interviews.
How other brands benefited from hackathons?
Promoting your products
Promotion of your business or product can be achieved through a hackathon in a creative way. ChallengeRocket.com along with NVIDIA organized NVIDIA® Jetson™ Developer Challenge. It was an online hackathon that engaged the global developer community to create tools and solutions utilizing Artificial Intelligence that can be applied in everyday situations. The reach of the challenge was an astounding number of 80 countries, and over 2000 participants, meaning a successful promotion of their product worldwide.
Diversifying your services
AccorHotels Warsaw Hackathon is another example of this type of contest being used in an intriguing, beneficial way. The goal that AccorHotels set out was to improve the guests’ experience in their hotel bathrooms by means of groundbreaking technological solutions. They succeeded in achieving this objective with SmartTap, an intelligent shower ecosystem. Today, AccorHotels guests all around the Europe can enjoy the modern bathroom experience.
Acting for diversity and equality
Women are not nearly as present in STEM fields as men are. Anita’s Moonshot Codeathon aimed to enable them in those areas through an online hackathon. It reached 93 countries and resulted in 75 submitted projects, 5 of which were awarded. Systers, the organization behind the hackathon held on ChallengeRocket.com achieved their goal of engaging all those identifying as women in the world of programming and STEM fields.
At ChallengeRocket we specialize in recruitment, and our passion for hackathons stems from it! We’re happy to work with you and organize a hackathon that fits all your needs. Many global brands trusted us in the past, let’s add yours to the list as well! Is your goal to recruit new talents, broaden the skill set of your employees, promote your brand, your product, or fulfill a social initiative? Hackathons are the way to achieve those effectively, and we are here to make it happen!