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The Eight Secret Benefits of Hackathons

By Joanne Jacobs

Hackathons have proven to be a great model for technology companies continue their innovation agenda. By tapping into internal teams and external developer communities, the problem solving capacity of an organisation can increase exponentially. Held usually outside of working hours, hackathon teams form to solve particular business challenges and then collaborate over a short period of time – say a weekend – presenting the fruits of their labour in a “working demo” at the end of the event. Sometimes the teams are so focused they forget to sleep.

These innovation events come in various forms – hackathons, code or design jams, open innovations and more. When working with SAP, we’d run massive code jams with hundreds of developers building apps that would struggle for approval in the workplace. Football simulations. Management competitions. Sometimes there’d even be a business app or two. These events would happen all over the world and create opportunities for developers to explore new and emerging technology, hardware and software frameworks.

In many ways, hackathons remind me of the kind of intense brainstorming I used to do years ago in marketing agencies. Except it’s done with code, not sharpies.

These days, working with corporate clients to create innovation programs, hackathons and workshop events, we bring a combination of technology, marketing and business savvy to the table. With the right design and consulting in place, we have found that hackathons can produce value far beyond your innovation or technology team. In fact, it can touch almost every aspect of your business.

The Eight Secret Benefits of Hackathons

From the airline industry to government and from education to healthcare and pharmaceutical, we have seen the investment in hackathons and innovation programs ripple across our client’s organisations.


Some of the main benefits include:

  • Sourcing and procurement: Hackathons help rapidly identify and evaluate new suppliers, products and vendors. By working with your procurement teams we can accelerate due diligence and validation processes as part of the hackathon design program.
  • Acquisitions: Identify potential investment and/or acquisition opportunities from amongst the participating teams. We work with your M&A teams to understand their investment criteria and appetite for risk.
  • New product/service development: Rapidly validate and test new products and services – in as little as a few hours, participating teams can work-up new demos/minimum viable products for your evaluation.
  • Talent: Sidestep the war for talent by identifying new talent for your teams from amongst the participants. Save on recruitment and advertising fees and learn whether there is a cultural fit during the event.
  • Frank feedback: Get the unvarnished truth about what works and why – under time pressure, the teams will quickly determine what works and what does not. And let you know.
  • Innovation: Why only have one team work on a particular challenge? Massively scale your problem solving capacity over a single weekend through this “distributed R&D” approach – pitting dozens of sharp minds against your business challenges.
  • Collaboration: Connect internal and external communities, work across functional business units and provide serendipitous opportunities for collaboration.
  • Profile, PR and leadership: Hackathons are fertile and newsworthy events that can establish, grow and amplify your “innovation brand” in the marketplace.

Learn more about how we can help you design a hackathon program with lasting business impact by leaving a comment or calling on +61 421 470 365.

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