Using hackathons to harvest enterprise apps

These events can yield apps that fuel corporate mobility efforts, says Forrester
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Enterprises, particularly technology and design firms as well as system integrators, are increasingly hosting internal hackathons, says Forrester in a new report. These events allow employees who don't typically work together to collaborate and experiment with new technologies and generate fresh ideas to address company challenges.

If planned properly, these events can yield enterprise apps that fuel corporate mobility efforts.

External hackathons, which are open to participants outside the hosting organization, are a great tool for promoting the company as a technical leader; however, external hackathons are not the time to build enterprise-ready software, according to report authors Vivian Brown and Jeffrey Hammond.

Internal hackathons are probably a better bet, although those will often fall short of a finished product, say report authors.

"The code that gets written will be quick and sloppy," says the Forrester analysts.

"That said, we've talked to many developers who take a project they slammed together for a hackathon on a longer development cycle where problems are refactored away, and the concept is strengthened into a real feature," add authors.

While the payoff for enterprise mobility can be big, hackathons aren't free. They can run anywhere from $6,700 to $40,000 to host, says Forrester.

The report recommends that teams new to hackathons begin by participating in an event to learn more about the experience. Organizations should also start with internal hackathons before trying to host an external, larger-scale one. Internal hackathons could be single-day events or a series of evening events. Organizations may opt to sponsor a public hackathon.

For more:
- download the Forrester report

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