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3 things I learned about hackathons at CES (beyond that they are amazingly cool!)

BI_Guest

Guest post by John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist for TechBeacon and HPE Software

JJ hackathon.PNGThis week I had the opportunity to sit down with a couple of the hackathon team members from Coding FTW, who successfully competed in this year’s AT&T Developer Summit hackathon. The team won a prize for the best implementation of an app that leverages the M2X Data Service API. The cool thing about Coding FTW, is that the team is dedicated to showcasing women in technology. I sat down with Sarah Austin (founder of Coding FTW and BroadListening.com and Caitlin McDonald to learn about their experience in the hackathon. Here’s what I learned:

  1. All APIs are not created equal
  2. Focus is critical
  3. Diversity leads to innovation

Let me explain.  

  1. In the hackathon, the team built an app using Hewlett Packard Enterprise Haven on Demand big data analytics platform, API’s from Ticketmaster, AT&T and BroadListening.com. While the team rapidly coded through the night, they uncovered a few ‘issues’ with some of the APIs. They discovered undocumented features (bugs?) and occasional issues when the over 2,000 developers in the hackathon created unplanned ‘load’ on the back end systems. The lesson from their experience is the importance of doing enough testing to be confident that your back-end APIs can handle the load.   You clearly can’t test everything, but you can minimize your risks.
  2. Building an app in a weekend is crazy—crazy cool. But when you’re trying to do something as crazy as working 24 hours straight to get an app ready to demo by Sunday morning, you have to focus on the key functions and features that are needed. Only through exceptional focus is the team able to prioritize their work and deliver a winning app. To be clear, you have to frequently re-evaluate to ensure you are focused on the right things.
  3. Having a team with a variety of perspectives can be a huge advantage. If you are trying to innovate and discover creative solutions, a team with designer, developer and even business skills enables you to see things from different perspectives. Too often, people assume that women are not technical and don’t code. In our R&D teams, I’ve seen fantastic technical skills from women as much as men. You should look at your teams and if you don’t see a healthy variety of perspectives, you really should ask yourself why not.

What next?   You can watch the interview soon at HPE Business Insights and start to think about how to apply these lessons to your IT team.

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Comments
John Hibb

1. take time to plan the plan - agree on frameworks and architecture early

2. Don't be afraid to throwaway code and start again

3. Don't register a domain name - Registering a Domain on AWS isn't covered by a gift certificate and it takes a few days to decommision

Lezlie Testa

I live in St. Louis and we are a hub for tech startups. There is almost always a hackathon going on. It's exciting to see the things that are being created in just a few days and most of it by "youngsters" that are in grades 8-12. We have also had the international robotics high school competition the last five years. Seeing what has been created by those high schoolers is truly amazing!

Bongani Buthelezi

I need to understand this a bit more

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