A New Hackathon Experience

This week I was attending a customer event. It was an interesting learning experience on different levels. It was a great opportunity to meet some people that I would not normally would be.

It was a hackathon put on by MLC Life Insurance (#MLCLifeHackathon) and we (as Oracle) were happy to support them as one of their partners. I’ve been to other hackathon events but they were organised differently. So I was curious to see what their objectives were. It would too easy to be cynical. With an open mind, I was happy to be part of their journey.

Here are some stats and facts:

  • 12 Projects (with a growth of 50% since the last one)
  • Over 100 people participated (with a growth of 50% since the last one).
  • 6 trusted partners. Thank you …
  • 1 great mentor ie Peter Laurie helped out. Thank you …
  • Teams were primarily MLC employees.
  • Ideas were internally sourced and planned prior to the event.
  • Goal was to pitch and have a working prototype.
  • Pitch environment was a market place style with tables, stands and computers.
  • Whole business (everyone) was invited to participate and vote.
  • Chairman of Nippon Life Insurance and MLC Life Insurance executives were there to participate and cast their votes.
  • Over 500 votes were tallied.
  • 5 prizes (1 for best hustler, 1 for best tech hacker team, 3 for most popular)

It was a great event and the positive nature at the event was great. Prizes were handed out, clapping and cheering. It didn’t end there.

I was talking to some of the executives and the organising team about the goals and outcomes for the business. And I was happy to hear it too.

  • This is path for the business to understand the problems and see what the potential outcomes are. “accelerating their understanding”.
  • The idea doesn’t stop there. Further investment will occur to make some of these real and put in the hands of the business.
  • Its not just about the event itself. People from within the business need to feel and appreciate what its like to work in this environment. It can be artificial at times but the intense collaboration and commitment in a short period is such a positive experience.
  • It was a safe environment to learn. Sometimes it can be very difficult for people to just jump in. This event felt very safe and supportive.
  • It had executive support and commitment “in-spades” … everyone up to the Chairman of Nippon Life Insurance was supportive. BRILLIANT

It was a learning experience for all — participants, organisers, executives, partners and me. Thanks MLC Life Insurance for sharing this experience with us. There are photos in twitter with hash tag #MLCLifeHackathon.

Author: Jason Lowe

Also known as: JLo, JSON I'm passionate about how organisations adopt IT quickly and sustainably to achieve a specific and measurable outcome. "How ?" Through creating sustainable platforms that are supported by lean IT practices in operational support and project delivery, and adopting these practices with Oracle technologies. Another area of interest is the use of commodity solutions to reduce the focus on things that the customer doesn't care about and the use of innovative solutions to focus on things that the customer does. I'm looking into how we (as an industry) can disrupt ourselves and others, in our methods of innovation, in our engagement & collaboration and in our expectations of ourselves and others. I'm currently learning and understanding different perspectives and drivers - from enterprise to start-ups, academia to commercial to public sector, cost-sensitive (risk) to value-driven (reward) - all of which influences decisions that organisations make. All of this will (hopefully) lead to understand 'my customers' better so I can 'service' their needs better.

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