AI Hackathon leads to Product Enhancement
An artificial intelligence-related chatbot for an employee experience software platform.
Applaud Solutions, United Kingdom
As companies embrace open innovation in greater numbers more are looking to hackathons as vehicles for innovation where participants work intensively in teams or own their own to solve problems or develop new products.
For some enterprises, hackathons have become a normal business activity, a way to engage employees on specific projects where solutions are needed, in some cases where they are needed quickly. Hackathons create a productive atmosphere that forces participants to convert their ideas into tangible solutions.
Embarking on an AI Initiative
In 2017 UK- and India-based Applaud Solutions embarked on its first ever artificial intelligence hackathon. This was a two-day event in its Indian Development Center to build something AI-related for its Applaud Cloud, a multi-channel employee experience platform. It was open to both developer and non-develop Applaud employees.
The first day kicked off with a pitching session where employee teams also received plenty of feedback on their ideas. Following this, the real action began, a concentrated bout of creative activity and concept wrestling as laptop screens whirred with data, fingers were a blur of motion over keyboards and everyone was fueled by fresh supplies of pizzas.
At the end of the two-day session, participating teams were given 30 minutes each to demonstrate their hacks to the panelists who scored them against a set of criteria. The winner of Applaud’s first AI hackathon was team Joey for a conversational and aesthetically appealing HR chatbot that is able to answer hundreds of context-sensitive questions from employees, managers and candidates.
Great news for the winners but even better news for Applaud who liked the winning idea so much they then embarked on the long process of building capability into its core products using the winning team's hack as a foundation.
This was a textbook example of how a hackathon can deliver something meaningful and valuable to a company in a very short space of time. Two days prior to the event nobody had a clue what would come out of it, neither employees nor employers. It took just thirty hours to go from a blank sheet of paper, or more accurately a blank computer screen to a usable concept.
Hackathons can generate lots of ideas but it’s only when those ideas are acted upon that these open innovation events demonstrate their real worth.
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