What is a Hackathon and How it Creates Value?

Hackathons originally debuted at the end of the twentieth century and have since expanded beyond the limits of the United States and Silicon Valley. This movement first gained traction among a tech audience in the 2000s, mostly involving developers, hackers, and programmers. However, its popularity swiftly extended beyond the tech sector. Nowadays, large companies do hackathons on a regular basis. Today, hacking is more than simply coding. These events are open to a larger audience. It has evolved into a vital tool for enterprise firms looking to promote the creative process and maximize innovation management. In fact, for many, hackathons have evolved into such a versatile and influential tool that how you execute them has a significant impact on the value your firm derives from them.

What is a hackathon?

Definition of Hackathon.

The term hackathon is a combination of hacking and marathon. They are events designed to accelerate the ideation and creation of technological solutions such as applications or software. They are a great tool when used correctly since they can result in tremendous development in a matter of hours or days. Originally, teams of computer programmers, tech project managers, and UX designers would take part. Nowadays, hackathons refer to a broader spectrum of events focused at developing solutions with others in a short period of time. It is typically presented as a contest. A panel of mentors and a jury will guide and evaluate participants, awarding those who completed the task best.

Typically, it lasts 48 to 72 hours. However, the short time frame creates temporal, logistical, and geographical constraints for the organizing party. As a result, it fosters a culture that discourages creativity. Consider the enormous work necessary to organize a perfect hackathon over 48 hours. You must select a location where a huge number of people may meet and work nonstop for more than two days. On the participants’ side, you must organize teams, find challenges to solve, build a prototype, and develop a business case in record time. Will the quality of each project meet expectations?

The limitations of typical hackathons

When searching for a model that checks all of the boxes, the solution may not be found in a 100% physical or 100% online model. We recommend a 020 methodology instead. The Online-to-Offline technique appears to find an appropriate mix between freedom and structured collaborative development.

Why arrange a hackathon?

Hackathons depart from the traditional innovation management process. Organizing hackathons increases agility in your innovation process. You rely on collective intelligence within your organization and, more broadly, across your external communities. Innovators in your ecosystem submit creative solutions and present their proposal to a panel of judges. This is an excellent technique to find promising activities and emerging technologies. Furthermore, you assist teams refine them during the competition and in real-world contexts by placing them in an incubator. 

How can a hackathon help a firm generate value?

Innovation hackathons enable businesses to create value by swiftly assembling a team of brilliant individuals to collaborate on unique and creative ideas. Participants work in an environment that allows them to freely explore and implement their ideas in a short amount of time. As a result, innovation hackathons assist businesses in identifying previously untapped potential for growth and development. When done correctly, it also improves the company’s innovative culture and attracts new employees.

Innovation management is emerging as a key people management tool, serving to both reinforce a brand’s desirability and retain employees. These innovation contests boost participants’ intentions to start a new firm by more than 30%.

Online hackathons have several advantages over traditional hackathons.

Faced with the flaws of the conventional 48-hour hackathon, new devices and technologies have appeared. Large businesses and talent enthusiastically welcome the creation of online platforms dedicated to conducting online hackathons. These concept management technologies are intended to address the flaws of the old approach by streamlining timetables, providing coaching, and empowering global and varied cooperation.

Optimized timelines.

As previously stated, running hackathons in just 24 or 48 hours might be a major disadvantage for everyone participating. Lack of time to complete your carefully designed solution is both disappointing and worthless. Migrating your physical hackathons to an online platform gives teams additional time to collaborate on solutions. This will enable for product-market fit validation, which is critical for the success of any new product or service launch. Dropout rates will reduce as this new and streamlined timeframe is implemented. Because there is adequate time to establish teams and complete projects, talent will see their work through to the final presentation in front of key stakeholders. Finally, participation is determined not by the participating talent’s availability, but rather by their capacity to divide the work across several weeks to reach the deadline.

The importance of coaching

During a physical hackathon, mentors or subject matter experts either walk around the room randomly or congregate in one place. Neither prove to be very efficient. However, participating talent needs coaching. Unfortunately, several teams lack confidence or are simply too busy to seek this support. In addition, there aren’t enough professionals to coach all of the teams while arranging a 24-48-hour event. As a result, by extending out the contest over several weeks, teams might be assigned coaches based on the individual project. These industry experts will then guide their teams on how to best respond to the challenge at hand.

Depending on the platform, teams can contact mentors on a regular basis to ask questions and update them on their progress. This also allows them to ensure proper follow-up on their assigned project. They can devote time to supporting the teams throughout the competition, as long as their schedules allow.

Global collaboration

The best abilities and ideas are everywhere! Limiting your hackathons to a fixed (physical) location may prevent you from finding the solution you need. By hosting a worldwide hackathon online, the geographical location of the participating talent is no longer relevant. As a result, the quantity and quality of submitted ideas will improve. You may even discover that the problem you’re attempting to solve has already been addressed in another area of the world.

Mercer | Mettl can be your go to platform where you can organize virtual Hackathon and learn more about how it works in order to collaborate technology industry with the real world and much more. Check out our website right away. 

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