Innovation is who we are
1 Jan, 2018
IaaS: Innovation as a Service
"A sustainable digital innovation strategy is essential for companies that want to get ahead of their competition,” says Sam Mathew, founder and CEO of Applexus. “Recent industry innovations with the machine learning, artificial intelligence and the cloud make this achievable for every business. The investments we are making allow us to help our customers accomplish this.”
Innovation is in our DNA at Applexus. Platforms, products and technologies are continually evolving and we never stop looking for ways find out what else is achievable. We think outside of the box and look for creative ways to solve problems.
Our CEO is so committed to innovation that he has invested in a team dedicated to this. Applexus Labs delivers services to clients that drive innovation. They even box up the entire innovation process and deliver 'Innovation-as-a-Service' (IaaS). IaaS facilitates the ideation, creation and innovation of products and services using new technologies.
Recently, Applexus Labs Practice Director, Scott Pletcher, organized a Hackathon across the entire Applexus organization. This was promoted as an opportunity to show off your skills, receive great praise and win prizes. Below is a summary of the Hackathon.
What is a Hackathon?
A Hackathon is an event, typically lasting a short period of times (a few hours to few days) where a group of people are given a challenge. Within the timeframe, contestants work feverishly to find the most creative and innovative solution to solve the challenge. This is usually in the form of creative use of technology. In the end, each participants show a solution that best solves the challenge.
Why did we hold Hackathon?
Applexus has a long history of supporting innovation. We consider this a core value and differentiator. The Hackathon was held to bring out creative and technical talents of our people. It will also allowed creative people to shine and demonstrate hidden talents.
What were the details?
This was a virtual event that took place over a few weeks and across 12 time zones. Both teams and individuals were invited to participate.
- Scenario One: A nationwide retailer with retail stores, ecommerce and call-center sales channels wanted to offer same-day delivery through their fleet of delivery vehicles.
- Scenario two: An apparel company which designs and contract manufactures garments sold through retailers wants a solution that will engage customers in the company's mission of social and environmental good.
- Scenario Three: A home automation company that sells various products across the globe wanted to present ideas and efficiently collect feedback from customers to identify products they would really love.
Each team was to come up with ideas and attempt to build out something tangible that enabled the desired outcome.
Eight teams with a total of 65 members entered the event. Each team had to drive the project and engage members, whereever they happened to sit. Each team was self-driven to meet, collaborate, work and deliver. Not all teams completed the task.
The winning team developed a prototype through video illustrations, The solution creative and appealing and offered a ‘real world’ example of what the solution they proposed would generate. The members received prizes and the praise of peers and managers.
What we learned
A global, virtual hackathon spread over a few weeks can work. The winning entry was quite creative in both product design and solution presentation. However, not all teams completed the project. We found that driving a firm commitment for a voluntary assigment over a long period of time is difficult. Further, different cultures (India and the US) have different fundamental drivers to complete a task like this.
We learned that an understanding of the true objective is key. With a culture of process creators and rule-followers, our team tends to look for and follow very clear and unambiguous guidelines. This is great when working within a thorough, established set of processes. Creating brand new outcomes with only the ‘end in mind’ and very no existing processes or guidelines is difficult.
Applexus is a company with many high-achieving, goal-oriented people who focus on “fulfilling requirements” and “completing the assignment.”An area of growth and opportunity for our team is developing the creative and artistic sides of employees.
Hackathons provide a stage for creative and ambitious people to show off their skill - kind of like singing karaoke. While a bunch of people are in the bar, only a few will take the risk – of fame or failure – and get up and sing. They want to show off their skills or just want to have fun. Hackathons allow the same type of opporunity to talented and creative people who don’t ordinarily pursue the limelight.
Hackathons are something we offer as a way to spark innovation and engage some of those 'closet karaoke signers'. Who knows…there may be the next Aretha Franklin in your midst.
Do you want to identify the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Woznick in your company? Contact Applexus labs to explore ways to get the creative, competitive juices flowing in your dev-teams and bring out the best in your employees.