Business Impact

5 Challenges Your Business Can Solve With Hackathons

Learn about using public and internal hackathons to solve some of the biggest business challenges.

There’s a reason the expression “two heads are better than one” exists. When it comes to brainstorming new ideas, more people usually means more ideas. That’s part of the reason why hackathons are so beneficial to organizations. You don’t necessarily need to have a team of thousands to dream up new business solutions. Instead, you can focus on giving people the tools to help them think outside the box. 

In this post, you’ll learn about five challenges your business can solve with public and internal hackathons. Let’s get hacking!

What Are the Benefits of Hackathons?

From crowdsourcing use cases to recruitment, there are a lot of reasons to host a hackathon. One of the main benefits of hosting a hackathon is inspiring innovation. Whether it’s a public hackathon or a private event that’s only open to employees, framing a problem in a new way can lead to all kinds of creative solutions. 

Public hackathons allow organizations to work with people from all over the world and with various skill sets to help solve problems. Internal, or business, hackathons help inspire new ideas, too. They’re also an excellent tool for building company culture and encouraging collaboration.

Read on to see the different challenges your business can solve with hackathons and the benefits of each.

#1 External Innovation and Disruptive Ideas

Hackathon Type: Public Hackathon

It’s hard to turn innovative thinking on and off. Not to mention that it can be a challenge to fit blue-sky thinking into day-to-day work. But, what if you could leverage a huge community of innovators? That’s one of the reasons why hackathons were created in the first place. 

Hosting a public hackathon is a great way to tap into fresh ideas from participants with diverse experiences and skill sets. The competitive setting and timeline help keep things on track, but otherwise, there’s no limit to participants’ creativity. External participants could have an entirely different way of thinking and can offer unique solutions to problems. 

With new technology emerging every day, hackathons provide a platform to explore and integrate cutting-edge technologies. You can leverage outside expertise in those areas to help your business stay ahead of the curve, embrace new trends, and drive disruptive change in your industry. 

#2 Product Development and Rapid Prototyping

Hackathon Type: Public and Internal Hackathons

One of the most common reasons for hosting a hackathon is to test a new product, app, or tool. The good news is that this can be done with either a public or internal hackathon. 

A public hackathon will put your product in the hands of a wide variety of developers and designers. They’ll get to play around with it—likely finding bugs or ways to improve it. This type of feedback is invaluable for companies to refine their product development roadmap. It can also significantly accelerate prototyping depending on what participants are asked to create. 

On the other hand, a internal hackathon leverages your team’s deep knowledge of the product, your company goals, your customer base, and other resources. It can be a great starting point for organizations looking to poke holes into a new product before investing substantial resources into its development.

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#3 Problem-Solving and Process Improvement

Hackathon Type: Internal Hackathon

There’s no one better suited to solving company-specific problems and process issues than the people who experience them every day. A internal hackathon is an effective way to ask team members to help improve internal processes. They have a deep understanding of specific pain points and can use their knowledge to develop tailored solutions. 

Learn more about how to run an internal hackathon (the right way).

#4 Recruitment and Talent Acquisition

Hackathon Type: Public and Internal Hackathons

A big reason for running a hackathon comes down to the participants themselves. They tend to be creative, good at problem-solving, and enjoy taking on new challenges. They also tend to be great team members and assets to their organizations. Essentially, these are people you want to work with!

Hosting a public hackathon will attract people who are interested in your industry. From a recruitment standpoint, hackathon participants are strong potential candidates. You can assess how they tackle problems and you can reasonably assume they’re interested in your organization (or they likely wouldn’t have participated in your hackathon).

While a internal hackathon isn’t useful for recruiting external candidates, it can be a great way to identify internal talent. Employees can flex their skills in new ways and it can help promote employee growth and career development. 

#5 Employee Engagement and Cross-Departmental Collaboration

Hackathon Type: Internal Hackathon

Companies promoting collaborative work environments have been linked to a 50% reduction in turnover rates. Additionally, employees are 17% more satisfied with their job when they have a collaborative work environment.

Internal hackathons bring together employees from different teams. This gives them a chance to build relationships with people they otherwise might not have worked with. Employees can showcase their skills in a setting outside of their day-to-day work, which helps foster an innovative, collaborative culture within the organization.

Solving Business Challenges With Hackathons

Despite their competitive nature, hackathons bring people together with the goal of solving a common problem. Hackathons are highly customizable to fit business needs and the possibilities for innovation are endless. You never know what a spark of creativity could turn into!

Looking for inspiration for your next hackathon? Check out all the open hackathons on Devpost.