A couple of weeks ago, we have ran our first Circuit hackathon at #DevLabs Athens and we want to share some background and impressions from the event. But first of all, here’s a shout-out to all the teams for their active participation and great hacks: NiMa, DataCorruption, Unicorders, BlueTeam, Eureka!, Power Rangers, Burrito Crunchers and Babel. Everyone learns and everyone wins, as our colleague Ira put it nicely.
We invited all developers at our Athens site to participate in a one-week Circuit hackathon, with demos and pizzas scheduled for Friday 2 pm, and we were amazed with the results. First, there were great winning and participating teams, as you can read over at NoJitter: One team created a speech-enabling functionality to enable visually impaired users, another team showed an alternative data representation to visualize who’s talking or should be talking to whom on Circuit, based on analytics of data Circuit conversations produce.
So the ideas were great. But we also had some broader objectives we wanted to achieve with the hackathon, as part of our transformation from a hardware provider towards a software vendor and service provider. There are three specific angles to it: Our technology base, the pace of innovation and culture.
- Technology: By exposing Circuit to developers who have so far exclusively been developing our VoIP and SIP systems, we were able to show that our move from traditional systems towards webRTC with Circuit opened up whole new options for developers – everything is now deployed via the cloud and the browser, using standard technologies and interfaces.
Innovation: With mature products like the PBX, innovation is usually incremental and spread along longer development cycles. In the new cloud collaboration world – where we even compete with consumer products – innovation must come at a faster pace: Within just a few business days, we were able to make ideas very tangible and see what might resonate with users
Culture: Ultimately, innovation and technology is about people working together, collaborating across functions, products and components. And this is exactly what happened during the hackathon: Developers that had always wanted to work on a project together but never had the opportunity formed teams.
So all this needs to be understood as part of our ongoing effort to open up Circuit as a development platform. We’re looking forward to sharing some of our results at Cebit and other industry events, and I’m sure you will see many of the ideas generated as part of the Circuit product at some point in the not so far away future, preparing Circuit to become a collaborative Platform as a Service. Next stop: Alsdorf, Germany. We are also planning public hackathons in Europe and in the US later this year.