Hackathons come of age

Traditionally they were ways of getting developers to invent new tech and apps, but they also have a place in a digital transformation.
By: | November 25, 2019

Hackathons are gaining wide appeal. They are not  just for start-ups and are not always about inventing killer new apps. They can also play a valuable role in accelerating the digital transformation of a large organisation.

So what exactly is a hackathon? The term refers to an event that puts entrepreneurs, software developers, programmers, graphic designers, user-experience specialists and project managers into a confined space for typically 24 hours to a weekend and challenges them to create some new form of technology or innovation.

But hackathons are also being used by businesses who want to instill a more innovation-driven culture. This short burst of forced innovation can kickstart a big company’s digital transformation into life and force it to look at some of its old-fashioned processes and practices.

A recent McKinsey report stated: “For large organizations in particular, hackathons can be adapted to greatly accelerate the process of digital transformation. They are less about designing new products and more about “hacking” away at old processes and ways of working’’.

But hackathons still present the perfect environment to inspire developers to build the next wave of innovative apps, and such events are driving the current explosion in fintech.

Major fintech player Finastra’s global hackathon (Hack to the Future) has a twist. It blends virtual hacking around the globe with in-person ‘City Hack’ locations, bringing together hundreds of students, data scientists, developers and fintechs to collaborate, innovate and build.

Eli Rosner, Chief Product and Technology Officer at Finastra, called it ‘’the future of finance’’. Hack to the Future is a venture between Finastra and its global technology partner, Microsoft. For Asia, City Hacks will be held in India and the Philippines.