Global Hackathon Report

Research shows that almost 60 percent of the companies expect to kiss goodbye to more than 20 percent of their revenues within five years because of disruptive innovation. Unless they change the way they operate, that is.

Understanding that a bleak future lies ahead unless they obey the innovation imperative, organizations world over are trying to align innovation and business strategy, take up open innovation, and “out-innovate” their competitors. Innovation entails identifying challenges, ideating to find solutions, implementing the most promising ones, and managing the process to sustain the winning outcomes.

Hackathons, which are a quick route for idea generation, have been surging in popularity for various reasons in recent years. A hackathon is defined as an event where teams of experts and advisers come together to collaboratively build and launch new ideas. No longer are they confined to the IT sector. More than the lure of awards, participants are excited by the chance to learn and the collaborate, be recognized by peers, enable social change, and network extensively.

With focused intensity, hackathons aim to spur innovation through various creativity initiatives and sustain the successful outcomes via careful management practices. Hackathons are much more than prototyping exercises—they are fun, engaging events that can help companies from becoming disruptors and not disruptees. Conducting a hackathon is often thought of as “starting up within a corporation.”

Being in the business of hackathons, we knew that a detailed analysis of global events would bring questions and insights that would indisputably help in strategic decision making across sectors and geographies.

We analyzed nearly 1000 hackathons across 75 countries in the world during a two-year period (from 2015 onward) and put together a Global Hackathon Report. Overall, we discern a common trend—hackathons everywhere are helping organizations battle talent scarcity, acquisition, and retention while fueling innovation across domains and functions.

From ideation to execution, we see hackathons upending traditional business models and rewiring the competitive landscape. In this report, we discuss the hackathon format and culture and its exciting possibilities to help people adapt to the future.

The list of countries and cities where most hackathons were conducted has some surprising names emerging as incubators of innovation and new businesses. It is time global companies and governments take notice of these new ecosystems with their talented citizens and creativity-focused organizations. These areas can be certainly earmarked for growth and future investment.

Governments and NPOs fall behind private firms in terms of the number of hackathons hosted. Corporates have been harvesting the benefits of hackfests—employee engagement, recruitment, branding, API adoption, innovation, beta testing—for a while now, and the interest hasn’t petered out yet. Still, we notice that open hackathons with more non-developers than ever before are catching on as a reliable means to drive social change. With so many hackathons coming back year after year, it wouldn’t be presumptuous to claim that hackathons are certainly living up to their potential.

Creating gender-inclusive environments doesn’t seem to be happening at the pace one would hope for. Unfortunately, this seems to be true in the case of hackathons as well, with women-only events being just too few to be considered significant. In a time where diversity and inclusion are key goals for any agency, this finding only reinforces the fact that hackathons continue to be male-dominated.

Predictably, universities and high schools prefer to attract students to hackathons for the immense learning on offer. In the report, you’ll see that the most popular rewards for the winners are rarely cash prizes.

Over the years, the power of hackathons has been cleverly leveraged in other industries, aside from IT. Intensive collaboration in a short period of time to arrive at novel solutions seems to be working for the financial, communication, media, high-tech, and automotive industries equally well. From our data, we could conclude that hackathons are being increasingly conducted to accelerate the pace of digital transformation.

Hackathons are clearly helping companies go from idea to action. To know what hackathons are, how these problem-solving exercises are being used to create an impact, and why people are turning to external partners and platforms to navigate the mercurial landscape of innovation, download our full report.

Download the complete Global Hackathon Report here

 

About the Author

Vivek Siva
Learned what not to do as an entrepreneur. An optimist with a love for business, the outdoors, and movies. Superpower: Ability to smile even when all hell breaks loose. Affiliation: World of witchcraft & wizardry
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