Avanade global software engineering hackathon

  • Posted on June 3, 2022
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
Avanade Global Software Engineering Hackathon

Having been innovating or managing innovation my whole career, I've come to the conclusion that there really is no big secret to encouraging and fostering a culture of innovation. No secret formula, no guaranteed methodology, no shortcuts.

At its heart, it is very simple.

You just take talented, passionate people, ask them to solve a problem, and give them the time, space and opportunity to ideate and create.

That's it. Quotes aside about necessity being the mother of invention etc. The above is the secret to raw innovation. Those are the only raw materials you need to make it happen. If you try to formalise and over complicate innovation, you risk diminishing its very essence. If you over prescribe the problem space to be tackled, you end up stifling creativity. I know because I've been there. Hackathon/innovation veteran right here.

Whilst it is possible to (carefully) focus and direct innovation in particular areas, the best innovation happens when you get out of people’s way and let them do their own thing. This year was no different.

These much loved and anticipated hackathon events are crucial in growing our innovative culture and help showcase the creativity and innovation of our people and gives them an outlet for sharing it.

After running the very successful internal Software Engineering hackathon in Avanade UK & Ireland last year where we were blown away by the ingenuity of the participants and their projects, this year I was given the chance to run it again. Only this time bigger, better, and GLOBALLY 🌎.

I'd like to share some of the awesome projects and hard work that has been happening over the last couple of months that culminated in the awards ceremony attended by over 200 people.

Global software engineering hackathon 2022
In March we invited the entire Software Engineering Talent Community at Avanade to take part in the global hackathon.

Throughout April, the self-formed teams worked on their chosen projects while polishing their 5-minute presentation describing their project. The judges also put on some judge mentor sessions where they re-iterated the judging scoring criteria and shared what they were particularly hoping to see in the projects.
In May, the teams pitched their projects to a panel of judges from across the business who scored each team project on 5 factors: Technology, Design, Business, Presentation and Inspiration to arrive at the winning teams who achieved the most points.

Global participation
Encouraging global participation this year brought with it its own challenges including finding appropriate times to pitch to the judges as well as juggling the busy judges (many of which were senior figures in the business) own availabilities. Though nothing that couldn't be solved with some careful planning.

In the end teams had entered from 9 different countries (UK , USA, Canada, Singapore, Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Germany and China).

Additionally, we wanted to make sure that every participant was acknowledged by providing some pretty awesome branded swag.

I am a huge believer that fun is important to most things in life and innovation is no exception. When it comes to these sorts of events if you aren't having fun and learning, you may as well call it a day and go home. It is important to me to make these events as enjoyable as possible.

This year, as well as the main awards for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place we also had some fun challenges/awards including "best team selfie", "best hackathon write up", "best social media engagement" and "best team name". They winners of which could choose from some fantastic prizes.

The winners
On Friday we celebrated the participants hard work and announced the winners during the awards ceremony. With £1000's in the prize fund and a nail-biting finish with judge scores ending up extremely close you could feel the anticipation on the call.

1st place: Impactless
A Power Platform application that provides users with information on products they purchase and their impact on the environment and the brand as a whole. A super entry from a team with UK/Ireland members.

2nd place: AvaSocial
To help combat isolation and encourage online socialisation with others, this solo team from China created a web application that uses your webcam and a trained machine learning model to challenge the user to simple standing yoga poses and counts down from 10. The camera overlay showing the body joints was astounding.

3rd place: Crisis management app
A fabulous web application that allows people in crisis to advertise what they need help with and their location on a map. A great entry from a Canada/USA team.

The feedback on the hackathon has been overwhelmingly positive even though I know we can make it even better next time. In fact, I've already heard murmurs of plans to do it again!

This hackathon has encouraged international collaboration, strong female representation, seen a range of novel technologies, proven that even individuals can create something amazing and shown great altruistic thought and effort.

I couldn't be more proud and grateful of everyone involved.

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