A hackathon is an open source competitive project in which a complete team of developers, designers, and subject experts are assembled and make a solution to a problem within a scheduled timeframe assigned to them. The goal is to achieve a working prototype in the form of a website, an app, or a robot to solve a set of given problems. Hackathon is also known as hackfest, hack day or codefest. However, it is nothing close to hacking. Rather it is a perfect platform for the participants who want to explore new technology to enhance their innovations. A hackathon is performed for days preferably over a weekend where programmers code collaboratively in an extreme manner and continuously brainstorming their ideas to come up with creative solutions to the assigned problems that set to them for work.
Types of hackathon
The word hackathon is a portmanteau or is a blending of sounds and a combination of meanings of two other words hack and marathon. So, hackathon signifies as a competitive challenge to solve the problems building working prototype to the set of problems. Based on the objective, an organization can either choose internal or external hackathon. An organization can also choose external hackathon either offline or online according to its suitability. Moreover, depending on either participant-focused or output-focused solution to a problem, an organization may choose a demography-based specific group of hackathons with the specific level of coding expertise. Different types of hackathons are:
- Internal hackathon — An organization, mainly for its employees conducts an internal hackathon or a corporate hackathon. It helps an organization to crowdsource ideas, promotes intrapreneurship, and boosts collaboration and employee engagement to a specific approach to initiate innovative ideas to scale their business. Moreover, internal hackathon helps to involve the employees from the non-technical background also in the project and promotes a culture of co-operation and collaboration.
- External hackathon — When a company needs to cultivate ideas from across the globe, it engages people within and outside the company to influence the participants of hackathon into the themes and goals set to them to perform.
- Online hackathon — In the online hackathon, a company can involve the participants from different geographies and time zone at a time to initiate a solution to a specific problem with innovations. As the name suggests everything starting from online registration for hackathon and submission of the work are performed online. On submission of a solution, the assessment and judgment of the ideas are also made online.
- Offline hackathon — An offline hackathon in every sense is performed at a physical location. A company can engage and recruit external developers for beta testing of prevailing products with the innovation of new apps.
- Application-based hackathon — Specific platform for the development of mobile device operating systems, video game development, desktop operating systems etc. are very useful and effective for an application-based hackathon.
- Programming language based hackathon — Application focused on a specific API are conducted to improve its features. Many hackathons are dedicated to conduct and create specific programming language based apps.
- Hackathons dedicated to a cause — During the last decade, a need was felt helping empowerment among the people on the emergence of different social issues like healthcare, education, and public service. Hackathons address those issues with an aim to develop ideas and technological solution to the greater community.
- Hackathons for specific demographic groups — These hackathons groups are event-based and are aimed to accomplish brand-building awareness, promoting a culture of collaboration and innovation. Companies conduct such hackathons to engage specific demographic community like students and women alongside their interactive workshop with an aim to nurture innovations.
- Code sprints — It is a competition that involves the writing of programs within a specified time to create working software. The specified time is generally longer than that of the hackathon and lasts for about one to three weeks.
- Industry-specific hackathons — These are popular in a specific industry as they thrive niche-based hackathon driving the innovation in that particular industry which is already established in their products and technologies with an aim to capture larger market share.
Why should a company conduct hackathon?
Hackathons are very much helpful not only for its innovation purpose but also to reach out to the people within and outside of the organization with same pace just opposed to managing the affairs of the business by a handful of people as done earlier. Hackathon helps an organization immensely to serve the market within a short span of time. It evolves the working prototype through innovative management cycle making a careful and critical examination, scrutiny for market viability and finally develops a product. It also helps the company to get the feedback of the product to stay ahead of the curve in the market. Hackathons beyond innovation also create a brand of the product and organization. Once you successfully sponsor or host a hackathon, you can build a community of developers, thinkers who can help in future strategy of the company as a marketing channel which will be more cost-effective. Apart from these, an employer branding hackathon attracts potential workforce to let them know what the company stands for.
What are the benefits of conducting hackathon?
Based on the organization’s objectives and target audience different organizations conduct different hackathons that fit them the best. However, the benefits are manifold and discussed below:
- It crowdsources ideas and improvises actions simultaneously to ignite the talent that already has within the organization
- Reinforce the values of the organization
- Helps to assess the existing employee pool of the organization on the basis of presentation skills, the ability of collaboration within the team, etc.
- It focuses on dynamic learning and self-driving engagement
- It encourages the working team creating a flexible and diversified work environment
- It facilitates talent mobility promoting greater transparency in the management that ensures a culture of recognition
- Recruits personnel with the right attitude and the right skill
- Explores new technologies
- Drives innovation to achieve the business goal
- Branding either products or organization or both
- Creates potential startups
- Creates solutions to the social issues
- Analyzes data for future prediction
- Rewards innovative ideas