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Reasons that Hackathons are catalysts for innovation

Updated: Nov 19



What does innovation imply to you?

What does it mean to be an innovative organization for the creation of new ideas and realizing them in the real world?

Innovation takes place through the creation of more effective products, services, processes, technologies, or business-centric models. In most cases, innovation is perceived as an engineering process in which the problem being solved is of scientific or technical nature.


Importance of Hackathons in the Innovation Process

Hackathons have become an integral part of the modern technology culture. They serve as innovative playgrounds for the exploration of a wide range of opportunities and possibilities. The primary objective of a hackathon is to bring together a community of developers, product managers, engineers, UI/UX designers, and any other individual interested in product development within a time-boxed duration.

In most cases, hackathons are organized for a duration of 24 to 48 hours. It involves asking participants to make use of relevant design principles and technology for ‘hacking’ a new idea or some solution to an existing customer challenge or opportunity.

With a hackathon, you can take into consideration relevant market insights and translate that into problem topics and themes. Then, you are expected to collaborate on ideation, followed by the process of prototype development.

How Does Innovation Take Place?

Hackathons typically need dedicated teams competing towards solving problems within a given period of time. Once the team members have received the challenge of the event, they work together in discovering the problem, conceptualizing, and coming up with viable solutions. This is why hackathons are known to span core stages of the innovation process.

As hackathons end, organizations receive the opportunity to come forth with a proper solution to the problem at hand. Moreover, companies are also able to come across the right team for the given project. Therefore, hackathons are effective in solving the opportunity cost of recruiting new talents.

Hackathons Helping Organizations Innovate and Leverage Talent

Current stats indicate that over 1000 hackathons take place across the globe every year. 80 percent of such events are organized by Fortune 100 companies. Hackathons are regarded as one of the major drivers for ensuring corporate recruitment and innovation.

Some of the ways in which hackathons promote innovation and sustainability for modern organizations are:

#Launching New Innovative Products & Services

One of the major ways in which organizations can leverage the benefits of a hackathon is through the development of new, innovative products or services.

Hackathons promote the free flow and sharing of innovative ideas depending on the given collaborative atmosphere of intense diversity. Creative ideas lead to the development of new solutions or applications on the basis of new products or technologies.

Moreover, the presence of an intensely creative atmosphere can lead to the creation of ground-breaking prototypes. The given prototypes are responsible for laying down the foundation of some novel product or service range. Once the concept has been set and implemented, the product is capable of moving into the development stage. Hackathons are known to accelerate the product development process by coming up with relevant prototypes.

In addition to this, the process of exploring and learning that continues taking place throughout the innovation process is a major takeaway for the participating organizations.

#Encouraging Collaborative Participation

Ideas and innovative concepts represent the future of any modern organization out there.

Hackathons help in fostering a healthy and collaborative approach. This has resulted in the development of some of the most innovative ideas being executed.

Hackathons help in encouraging a resourceful and meaningful collaborative culture. This is because participants are not allowed to work individually. The problem is expected to be solved by the team as a whole.

All the participants in the given team are expected to contribute by bringing together the respective skills for the given project. Consequently, it leads to the introduction of innovative solutions that might not have been possible while working alone.

#Driving Innovation Internally

Hackathons are regarded as one of the best ways to ensure innovation internally by promoting in-depth engagement with the employees or teams. It helps in offering access to a dedicated platform for the employees to collaborate with other core business functions while showcasing their talent.

As far as leveraging such events for driving customer engagement and innovation internally is concerned, there are not many organizations capable of doing it better than Facebook. Facebook is known to organize a hackathon every quarter. Until now, it has completed over 50 major hackathon events along with over 80 smaller events across the globe.

#Putting Data to Better Use

Reports indicate that by mid-2022, there will be over 40 zettabytes of data.

To break that down further, there will be around 5.2 Terabytes of data for every individual on the given planet. However, until now, only 0.5 percent of the given data has been analyzed and utilized by organizations of the world.

One of the latest emerging trends is the advent of Machine Learning or Big Data hackathons. Over 6 percent of hackathons organized across the world are Big Data or Machine Learning events.

An increasing number of organizations are opening up the respective data to experienced developers for coming up with innovative predictive models.

Conclusion

Hackathon is an event or innovative tool that is capable of covering a large percentage of an organization’s innovation journey. The best part is that it can be implemented in a cost-effective manner for creating a culture of unparalleled, sustained innovation.

The stronger the problem statement and insight, the better the results of the hackathon. It allows an organization to rapidly prototype a particular idea while determining its quality, identifying flaws, iterating, scaling, and rolling out to businesses.