After the pandemic, we gave our Hackday a new look and the response at the office has far exceeded our expectations. Our hackathon begins with some mingling. We spend time together discussing different ways in which we can improve the digital customer experience within Nordic Choice Hotels and the hospitality industry at large. This is particularly important since the teams bring together colleagues from different departments providing their own unique perspectives. After some teambuilding and a good night’s sleep, we meet up for breakfast and then get going on our various projects.
The Hackday lasts for 24 hours, ending with a presentation for everyone to sum up the ideas developed by the various teams. Everyone in the office is welcome to listen in! There are plenty of snacks and beverages available throughout the day to ensure that everyone is brimming with energy.
So, why do we even have hackathons? And what do they mean to us? Let’s introduce the initiators of the Hackday, our Solution Architect Hasnain Alibhai and our CTO Martin Belak, to tell you more.
Martin has been in charge of organising hackathons in the past. He’s not entirely sure exactly how it all began, but the why is clear as day:
“I suppose I was inspired by Google or some other tech company way back. The whole idea is to let teams explore stuff outside their daily tasks. It’s all about networking, innovating and trying new things – and of course having fun in the process!”
Hasnain, who has worked at eBerry since 2019, remembers how management teams were toying with the idea of having some kind of innovation day.
“Since I’d already participated in a few hackathons in my previous job, I thought I could provide some useful input. The goal was to have a day where innovative ideas could be prototyped. Even then, another objective was to facilitate closer collaboration between different departments by bringing together non-tech and tech colleagues. There’s a commonly held belief that tech people are like magicians, whereas in reality it’s just that they possess a different skills set. The Hackday and the days leading up to it should be seen as a conversation starter – this is one of the main reasons for holding such an event in the first place.”
There’s certainly no need to end up with a fully functioning application at the end of the day. It’s enough with prototypes, images, blueprints and new business ideas. In order to be regarded as successful, the event should have given people new skills and facilitated great collaboration between different departments.
“That said, we have worked with the Management Team to formalise this so that we can take ideas from the prototype stage to production. Though I must say that this idea is still in its infancy” Hasnain adds.
Martin also mentions that product owners are always on high alert evaluating the potential value of outcomes to see whether we could add them to the backlogs of our development teams.
And what happens with the winners of the Hackday? The winning concepts or ideas get presented to the executive management team. It’s generally a much appreciated activity, both for the execs and the winning team.
Our next Hackday will be held on Valentine’s Day, so it will be all about what we LOVE! Hasnain shares his thoughts on what he most looks forward to during the hackathon.
“I love innovative ideas! It always amazes me how much can be accomplished in a single day. It creates such a buzz!”
Other than the food, Martin is also excited about the collaborative element of the Hackday. “Pizza is an important part of any successful Hackday” he says and laughs. "Other than that I just can’t wait to have my mind blown – I’m ready to learn something new. And what that will be remains to be seen.”