By Sacha Gera on June 15, 2015
How do you drive employee education, cultural transformation and innovation from inside the enterprise? In GENBAND’s case, you send our newly hired Kandy Evangelist, Alex Donn, up to the Great White North and have a hackathon. Our second internal hackathon took place June 4th and 5th in Ottawa and we were floored by the results.
Hackathons have traditionally been developer-only affairs full of grim-looking, pasty boys spewing endless lines of code late into the night. However, Kandy is pink, colorful, and easy to use, and the spirit embodying those qualities was alive and well in our Ottawa offices. We had 15 teams and 68 participants representing the range of our company—Documentation, GPS, R&D, Sales, PLM, and NPI were all present. Even team members from Montreal and Toronto contributed via the recently re-launched Smart Office using multi-party video collaboration. Few if any of the participants had any previous coding experience, showcasing just how easy it is to embed real-time communications (RTC) in your applications.
As a member of the judging panel, I have to say that making the final decision was extremely difficult – we saw a tremendous number of great concepts. In fact, all 15 teams came up with working proofs of concept (POC), some of them with real business potential. Though originally slating three winners, the judges ultimately selected four.
We were so impressed by our interns (Thomas Currie, Michelle Solange Foy, Sydney Ensing, Agastya Kalra) that “Online Chess Help” earned them the fourth place prize. The Winterns envisioned contextual RTC embedded into a game of online chess—video, voice, and chat to communicate with your opponent while you play. Using a single line of HTML5 code to make their online chess POC work, they were able to simplify how we implement Kandy POCs. Our Sales Engineering team could apply this to save time while firing up customer demos.
A night’s worth of work produced a very polished pitch by Knowledge Transfer Platform (Margarett Gillis, Matt Ferguson, Andrea Hebert, Jeff McCoshen, Greg Tomalik, Todd Ohman).Their third-place-winning concept of “DIYNGO: The Uber of Do it Yourself Home Repair” included Wordpress integration, presence, video collaboration and chat. Our second place team, Lali Pop Gang (Michelle Farquharson, Joan Smith, Don Devenny, Andy Lee, Erick Lachambre), produced “Virtual Tourist Guide,” which enables a user abroad with text messaging, screen share, IM, presence, voice/video, and Call Grabber integration with GENCOM.
Finally, our Ottawa Hackathon winner was Kandy’d Health (Mike Nemec, Carlos Frank, Tim Pooley, James Hyjek, Nurse Melanie Clow, Neihls Jacobson). Their winning concept was “Tele Health: A Modernized Reverse 911”. Detecting injury caused by a fall, the iWatch-employed application triggers RTC with emergency response. An elderly patient is equipped a panic button and ambulance location technology all on his or her watch. However, even more remarkable than their embedded RTC, the first place team chose to donate their winnings to charity!
The hackathon was doubly successful. Not only did we see employees perpetuate a culture of innovation but also the Kandy platform’s ease of use. The event stood as further evidence of GENBAND’s constant state of progression and not-so-surprising ability to produce brilliant new ideas.