Perks of an Online Hackathon
Online Hackathons - Part of the new normal? Why you should adapt with the times and join in.
As we know, hackathons are competitive events which bring together programmers, developers and innovators, on a common platform to tackle problems relating to companies, industries, governments or society at large. The participants are given the challenge to build an innovative solution to the problem.
Also known as a ‘Hackfest’ or a ‘Hackday’, the event gives the participants a whole platform to think, innovate, build and finally demonstrate their solution in a short span of time. With a team of participants, each having their own diverse skill set, everyone plays a role in the different stages of the event. The diversity of participants in their skills and experience really simulate a team in an ideal workspace environment.
The usual process of a Hackathon can occur in both a physical or a virtual environment. Participants register according to their respective interest in challenges at the hackathon. Once the competition starts, they have to form teams and are then presented with the problem statement to develop a solution for. They are judged based on their ability to present a solution in a short frame of time.
In today’s era, competitions aren’t just restricted to a bunch of people in an area competing against each other. Everyone wants to showcase their projects along with their skills as much as they can, and on as many platforms as they can. Thus the idea of online hackathons was both.
In an online hackathon, we can tap into new levels of accessibility and outreach. A team can have members from different states, countries or even from different continents, competing against participants from a totally different part of the world.
Online Hackathons have gained significant relevance since the beginning of the pandemic, and people have started to look for virtual opportunities to upskill and learn. Certain online hackathons combat global issues, and participating in such hackathons has proven to be a diverse as well as an enriching experience due to the multi-directional solutions they get to witness.
Benefits of Online Hackathons
A Larger Community
When we talk about online hackathons, we can expect a much larger audience facing fewer management issues,when compared to the physical ones. Hackmakers organised the #Digital Defence Hack 2020 which had more than 2,000 participants from the APAC region. Removing the geographical barriers allowed participants, mentors and sponsors from around the world to collaborate with one another. Along with the obvious benefit of networking, it also helped give perspective to all those involved. It would require tremendous amounts of time, effort and resources (human and monetary) to achieve this in an offline hackathon. An offline hackathon with up to 300 participants or more requires a lot more detail and logistics planning
The Diversity Factor
Since there are no or limited boundaries to online hackathons, participants may join in from various regions of the world. Learning something new about a piece of technology is one of the key takeaways from such diverse platforms. Collaborating and coordinating with people of different regions provides an enriching experience in its own. The solutions may also benefit, as different participants bring unique perspectives and experiences to the table.
Over 80% of Fortune 100 companies conduct Hackathons to drive innovations
Building a Network
Competing with a global community and being guided by some of the best in the industry, what better platform would one need to showcase their skills? Online hackathons have indeed become an amazing platform for skillful entrants in the job market to create connections with professionals.
Limited Costs and Logistics Required for the Event
There’s no need to book a venue, arrange refreshments, order catering, buy plane tickets or book accommodation for mentors and sponsors, even the reference materials are stored on a common cloud. This saves a lot of money!
A common platform for communication (eg. Using Slack as a Communication Partner in #DigitalDefence Hack) and costs involving some of the tools required to do the hacking (Sponsored by Oracle and IBM during the #BuildwithAI Hack) are some of the costs that would occur to the organisers, but even this would be a fraction of the costs of organising a physical hackathon with a much less audience.
The Learning Factor
Apart from the rich open source tools that are available for developers and coders to work on, hackathons are also sponsored by big corporates which provide their own sophisticated tools built specifically for the purpose of that operation to work on. By working on these tools, hackers get an insight as to what sort of tools are used in the industry and also get a chance to get some hands on experience on those tools.
Once a rarity, online hackathons have now become essential to both the users (i.e. Participants) and the customers (i.e. Sponsors). For one, it adds essential value to their portfolio whereas to the other it could even act as a sort of recruitment tool.
The most essential component of a hackathon are its meetings. Mentioning meetings at the conclusion has a reason in itself. Meetings have been able to keep the bonding effect, just like that of any other human interaction, thus maintaining a unique relation between the offline and online hackathons.