A hackathon with real purpose

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As with all things new and innovative, there is some debate as to where the term ‘hackathon’ came from. Almost certainly first coined in the mid-2000s, the ‘hack marathon’ to give it its correct epithet, gained traction at the time in the tech world, almost certainly in Silicon Valley. Lots of companies would host these events internally to allow their teams to work on whatever they wanted in the hope of inspiring new areas of innovation.

Dualog is no stranger to innovation, you only need to read about the exploits of its own Innovation Garage to see that. So, it is no surprise that Dualog CEO Morten Lind Olsen has not only put his weight of support behind this year’s event – the third ‘hackathon’ held by the company in as many years – but has been known to don a hoodie and get on with innovating himself.

For two days Dualog turned its offices into what can only be described as ‘fun town’ and allowed the creative juices to flow. Anyone in the company interested in attending was there, sadly not from the Far East this year because of time constraints, but those present, were given their hackathon hoodies and some breakfast, before getting down to the task of pitching their ideas. A total of seven ideas were pitched and participants encouraged to innovate whichever idea fired their enthusiasm.

“Two years ago, it was all about solving a problem and generally understanding the concept of what a hackathon was all about. At the time we shot a small internal video about the event and everyone thought it was a success. The idea was not about being too realistic in completing a project, but the event was a way of working across departments. All ideas were equal.

“Without doubt, this year’s event was a lot smoother; the approach of the teams was more structured, and they presented and innovated on practical ideas that were to the point. One of the best ideas that came through was when one of the groups decided to investigate a production task which, although necessary and manageable, could prove time-consuming. The team came up with a way of managing that task with no time lost, bestowing a very real and practical value to the company. As a result, this group won the Business Impact and Value Award while the popular vote award went to a second group which developed a new prototype app with increased functionality.

“The hackathon is about harnessing a culture of creativity and innovation, but we are certainly also aware of the fact that this innovative culture at the end of the day must improve our business and contribute to delivering better products to our customers,” Mr Lind Olsen said.

And the positive takeaways from the event? Well according to Dualog there were many. “The reason for arranging the Hackathon was to promote the innovative mindset in the company,” said Silje Moan, Dualog COO. “It also allowed people to think freely for two days, cooperating across departments and roles. It has generated some great ideas, both ideas for new services and new innovative changes to current services. Everything is allowed.”

After the Hackathon, it was also agreed to send three of the most recently hired employees out to get market experience. Two R&D engineers and one Support Engineer will be travelling to Hamburg to visit customers, walk the SMM exhibition and attend a maritime hackathon http://seadevcon.com/maritime-hackathon/