Slalom hackathons instill a culture of curiosity, collaboration, and exploration.
They encourage us to share our expertise and ideas with each other, fail fast and prove quickly, and unearth new ways to solve old problems.
And, by challenging us to push the latest technologies to the edge, they build valuable domain expertise that can help us pair our clients with the best solutions for their business challenges.
An experiment that worked
Unlike other hackathons that run for 24 or 72 hours, Slalom’s hackathons give teams the chance to participate without having to pull all-nighters or spend weekends away from their families and hobbies. The unique format was “an experiment at first,” says Jeremiah Dangler, solution principal and program manager of Slalom’s hackathons. “And it worked.”
“A lot of people have families, a lot of people have client obligations, and trying to squeeze in a hackathon with all your other responsibilities is a challenge,” says Dangler. “It doesn't go with Slalom's work-life balance, or our core values.”
It also produces better results. He adds, “It gives teams the opportunity to dive into the technology, understand it, and produce solutions that are often usable, at least in a proof of concept state.”
Over 200 participants teamed up for 12 weeks to explore ways to use data to break down barriers, improve community and government, and drive business results. The winner: a solution that could help improve the air quality in the most polluted area of Detroit. The team designed a custom, 3D-printed air quality sensor that can be installed outside buildings to gather and analyze real-time data.
Twelve teams explored the possibilities of using blockchain to solve problems outside of cryptocurrency—from security to social media. The winning team presented an energy-sharing microgrid that would empower people to generate and distribute electricity. This would increase electricity reliability, improve capacity management, and encourage green energy production.
Hacking for social good
For over three months, nearly 300 Slalom employees partnered with 36 not-for-profit organizations to help further their missions—from helping people rise out of poverty, to improving literacy in Uganda.
“This was a great opportunity to foster a connection between two organizations I love so much,” says Slalom Chicago’s Danny Scott. “It was one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever worked on.”
Over six months, 23 Slalom teams put their heads and hearts together to create solutions using AI. The winners: a drone that can recognize missing persons and a platform that scrapes classified ad sites for sex trafficking information.
Slalom partnered with Microsoft to host our first ever HoloLens hackathon championship. Six teams from all of Slalom’s delivery centers—Boston, Chicago, Houston, Seattle, and Toronto—came together at Microsoft’s campus to present their innovative HoloLens creations in front of a panel of Microsoft judges, in hopes of winning first place.
Teams from across the company came together to create new apps for the Amazon Echo. The results: being able to ask Alexa to book you a conference room and for advice on the age-old dilemma of what to get for lunch. “Now we know these things can be done,” says Slalom Boston’s Justin Lee, “so when developing software for clients, we can say, ‘With Echo, I was able to work around a limitation of being able to talk to something directly—and that might work here.'"