Hackathon The Third: The rookies’ perspective

Author: Tom Stinton and Sam Horril

After two successful in-house Hackathons in January and June 2015, Intelligent Environments hosted its third on 7-8th January 2016. More than 30 people from both the Belfast and Kingston office took part, making this the most popular Hackathon by far.

As usual, each team was made up of five or six technical members with a varied range of skills: some who can code in their sleep and others who think .NET is some sort of basketball manoeuvre rather than a coding language.

All teams convened in the Kingston office at 9am on the 7th, equipped with a 30 hour supply of soda, crisps and other snacks to get them through the day (and night!). 

By 11am, the Kingston office was abuzz with mind maps and furious coding. Each meeting room was filled with developers, eagerly hacking their way to victory.

Meanwhile as non-participants got on with their work as normal, non-technical hackers were seen roaming around the office armed with iPhones and video cameras, preparing visual aids for their presentations the following afternoon.

As the rest of the company went home as normal in the evening, our intrepid Hackers coded tirelessly through the night and perfected their presentations. Pizza Go-Go were kept busy too, supplying 40 pizzas for hungry Hackers.

The hard work (and sizeable Pizza Go-Go bill) paid off. The rest of the company was treated to five truly outstanding presentations, all of which gave the audience – which filled the ground floor of the Kingston office to the brim – a strong impression of how each solution worked.

After the presentations, our panel of four judges unanimously declared that The Brogrammers were the winners.

The Brogrammers solution, Mood Maestro, allows companies to gather and analyse customer feedback data in real time, across app stores and key social media channels.

The judging panel described Mood Maestro as “a truly outstanding concept.”

Congratulations must also go to all teams who took part in the Hackathon, whose solutions and presentations displayed an outstanding level of ingenuity and creativity. Just the names alone show this ingenuity and creativity – Light-bulb Smiley Face Unicorn Chopsticks Penguin and Monkey, Obi-Wan-Hackobi (my personal favourite!), Holly and the Hackers and The Real Bank Callers.

What made our third Hackathon even more special was the presence of non-Intelligent Environments team members. In a first for our Hackathon, two consultants from one of our strategic partners, CSC, joined some of our teams. Their Head of Banking and Capital Markets, Mandeep Sidhu, joined David Webber, Jerry Mulle and Simon Cadbury on the judging panel.

CSC’s judge declared “the Intelligent Environments Hackathon was a great experience. The ideas developed were incredibly innovative, and our consultants’ feedback was so positive that CSC are looking forward to fielding a team of our own to participate in the next Hackathon.”

A resounding success, then!

Now let’s hand over to Tom Stinton, a member of the winning Brogrammers team. Tom is Head of Product at Intelligent Environments and along with me, he is a newcomer to the world of the Intelligent Environments Hackathon.

The January Hackathon was the first I have taken part in, and I have to say it was a fantastic experience.

All the problem statements set by the Hackathon team were relevant to issues faced in digital financial services, and ranged from trying to get older customers to engage with digital products to integrating bitcoin with traditional digital financial services products.

The problem statement that my team, The Brogrammers, chose to address was as follows: digital banking product owners cannot currently see App Store Ratings & Reviews within an Interact Management Dashboard and have to manually trawl through app stores looking for any <2 star reviews.

This was a particularly interesting problem statement for me. I have found in previous work that most organisations simply don’t have the time to trawl through the massive amounts of digital feedback left by their customers manually. They will often have thousands of reviews left for them over multiple sources meaning they aren’t able to accurately assess the end-user response to their apps.

The Brogrammer’s product, Mood Maestro solves these problems. It is an innovative solution which allows organisations to aggregate ratings and reviews of their apps on social media and app stores. It even evaluates the sentiment behind every Tweet and Facebook comment.

Mood Maestro can also send direct responses to customers feedback, raising the bar for business to customer interaction.

The Hackathon gave us all an opportunity to make friends with colleagues on different floors who we don’t normally work with. It was a joy to see other Hackers’ presentations, all of which showed a level of ingenuity that makes our company unique.

I look forward to taking part in July!

29 Jan 2016

Author: Tom Stinton and Sam Horril

After two successful in-house Hackathons in January and June 2015, Intelligent Environments hosted its third on 7-8th January 2016. More than 30 people from both the Belfast and Kingston office took part, making this the most popular Hackathon by far.

As usual, each team was made up of five or six technical members with a varied range of skills: some who can code in their sleep and others who think .NET is some sort of basketball manoeuvre rather than a coding language.

All teams convened in the Kingston office at 9am on the 7th, equipped with a 30 hour supply of soda, crisps and other snacks to get them through the day (and night!). 

By 11am, the Kingston office was abuzz with mind maps and furious coding. Each meeting room was filled with developers, eagerly hacking their way to victory.

Meanwhile as non-participants got on with their work as normal, non-technical hackers were seen roaming around the office armed with iPhones and video cameras, preparing visual aids for their presentations the following afternoon.

As the rest of the company went home as normal in the evening, our intrepid Hackers coded tirelessly through the night and perfected their presentations. Pizza Go-Go were kept busy too, supplying 40 pizzas for hungry Hackers.

The hard work (and sizeable Pizza Go-Go bill) paid off. The rest of the company was treated to five truly outstanding presentations, all of which gave the audience – which filled the ground floor of the Kingston office to the brim – a strong impression of how each solution worked.

After the presentations, our panel of four judges unanimously declared that The Brogrammers were the winners.

The Brogrammers solution, Mood Maestro, allows companies to gather and analyse customer feedback data in real time, across app stores and key social media channels.

The judging panel described Mood Maestro as “a truly outstanding concept.”

Congratulations must also go to all teams who took part in the Hackathon, whose solutions and presentations displayed an outstanding level of ingenuity and creativity. Just the names alone show this ingenuity and creativity – Light-bulb Smiley Face Unicorn Chopsticks Penguin and Monkey, Obi-Wan-Hackobi (my personal favourite!), Holly and the Hackers and The Real Bank Callers.

What made our third Hackathon even more special was the presence of non-Intelligent Environments team members. In a first for our Hackathon, two consultants from one of our strategic partners, CSC, joined some of our teams. Their Head of Banking and Capital Markets, Mandeep Sidhu, joined David Webber, Jerry Mulle and Simon Cadbury on the judging panel.

CSC’s judge declared “the Intelligent Environments Hackathon was a great experience. The ideas developed were incredibly innovative, and our consultants’ feedback was so positive that CSC are looking forward to fielding a team of our own to participate in the next Hackathon.”

A resounding success, then!

Now let’s hand over to Tom Stinton, a member of the winning Brogrammers team. Tom is Head of Product at Intelligent Environments and along with me, he is a newcomer to the world of the Intelligent Environments Hackathon.

The January Hackathon was the first I have taken part in, and I have to say it was a fantastic experience.

All the problem statements set by the Hackathon team were relevant to issues faced in digital financial services, and ranged from trying to get older customers to engage with digital products to integrating bitcoin with traditional digital financial services products.

The problem statement that my team, The Brogrammers, chose to address was as follows: digital banking product owners cannot currently see App Store Ratings & Reviews within an Interact Management Dashboard and have to manually trawl through app stores looking for any <2 star reviews.

This was a particularly interesting problem statement for me. I have found in previous work that most organisations simply don’t have the time to trawl through the massive amounts of digital feedback left by their customers manually. They will often have thousands of reviews left for them over multiple sources meaning they aren’t able to accurately assess the end-user response to their apps.

The Brogrammer’s product, Mood Maestro solves these problems. It is an innovative solution which allows organisations to aggregate ratings and reviews of their apps on social media and app stores. It even evaluates the sentiment behind every Tweet and Facebook comment.

Mood Maestro can also send direct responses to customers feedback, raising the bar for business to customer interaction.

The Hackathon gave us all an opportunity to make friends with colleagues on different floors who we don’t normally work with. It was a joy to see other Hackers’ presentations, all of which showed a level of ingenuity that makes our company unique.

I look forward to taking part in July!