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Why companies are turning to internal hackathons | TechCrunch

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons | TechCrunch

Companies are always looking for an edge, and look for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do this is to run an internal hackathon around a theme and have employees attack a problem together. This not only brings new ideas and new ways to solve problems for the company and its customers, but also has the added benefit of enabling staff to collaborate and share ideas.

Brandon Kessler, CEO and co-founder of DevPost, a company that helps customers organize and manage internal and external hackathons, says he's seen hackathons cause major problems for their employees. How to help motivate to solve.

“Without a question, innovation and collaboration are two of the key values ​​when it comes to running an internal hackathon, and almost everyone wants both,” Kessler told TechCrunch. He said that generating new ideas is the top priority while running these events.

“Let's all have some agency to come up with ideas and solve problems, be more efficient,” he said. “These days, I think innovation is synonymous with AI. Of the 1,200 hackathons we did last year, I think maybe 10 weren't about AI. I've never seen anything that I called AI. As seen with the rise of hackathons.

When you get a group of people in a room (or even virtually) and let them loose on a particular problem, good things usually happen. “The cross-discipline involvement, the innovation, the ideas that come from people working with different stakeholders than you normally do, that's what hackathons create,” he said.

Netta Retter, director of innovation programs at Okta, says she learned about the importance of internal hackathons at her previous job at Facebook, then carried that over to her current role.

“I think what Facebook realized very early on was the power of the hackathon to really foster a culture of innovation that had a very broad impact on what was built and how it was built. And I think what's really amazing about Okta is that it's really doubled down on that in our hack culture,” Reiter told TechCrunch.

It has recently manifested itself in finding ways to use AI to improve the products and services offered by the company. Hackathons help bring remote-first companies together to work on these problems.

“We've been able to build a really strong hack culture globally, and I think really diving into generative AI was one of the places where they were able to show how hackathons can bring new tools and It's a really powerful way to use them to really influence what we make and how we make it from the bottom up, which I think is pretty amazing. ” said Reiter.

Chris Aidan, VP of innovation and inclusive and emerging technologies at Estée Lauder, sees these hackathons in a similar way, but because of their character, they focus on topics of human interest rather than business-specific ones. Ways to improve breast cancer diagnosis, or helping visually impaired people apply make-up unaided. But the method is still the same, regardless of the goal.

“We do one hackathon a year that both the public and employees participate in, and then we do an internal hackathon based on a challenge with a particular business unit or one of our brands to solve something,” Eden said. Trying,” Eden said. They also hold brainstorming sessions, they call idea-a-thons, which involve creating no-code or low-code solutions.

Reiter says that bringing together people in different roles, namely technical and non-technical people, really helps bring new ideas to life. “I think having more diverse roles leads to better products, leads to better innovation. And I think diversity is really important at hackathons,” she said.

“It doesn't matter how technical people are or how amazing the thing you build is, as long as you have diverse perspectives, different life experiences, different ways people use these things. What you're creating, it doesn't have the same effect,” he said.

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