Article - Slalom hackathons

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Slalom hackathons

Pushing technology to the edge

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.”

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.”

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Digital optics in the background Digital optics in the background
Digital network

Artificial intelligence hackathon

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.
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Man in a blue shirt wearing HoloLens and making pointing motion with fingers on right hand

Microsoft HoloLens hackathon

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.

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“Alexa, ask the team to hack the Amazon Echo”

Teams from our delivery centers 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.‘”

            

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