When most people hear the word "hackathon," they tend to associate it with long, intense coding competitions. This is of course one type of hackathon, and there are many other similar events across different fields, from design thinking to game jams. Hackathons even exist in the humanities.
Aspiring citizen developers at SAP are already participating in many different hackathon programs, including internal events as well as events that include partners and customers. In this lesson, we’ll take a closer look at some of these hackathons and hear from the experts behind them.
Hack2Build is one of the many initiatives lead by the SAP Co-Innovation Lab, which includes a global network of teams who work with SAP partners to build solutions on SAP platforms. During the Hack2Build event, partners are organized into teams of usually four to five people, who begin to work with different SAP tools in an agile, limited-time setup to create solutions that can quickly become usable in a real business setting.
Hack2Build pushes its participants to gain deeper understanding of SAP systems, and while it has its origins in projects with technical complexity, more recently it also covers low-code/no-code offerings, such as SAP AppGyver. And of course, future formats for other new LCNC products will be covered such as SAP Process Automation
The Hack2Build journey typically looks like this:
- Idea stage – Teams look at real world business challenges that they are facing
- Hack stage – Teams build out a prototype over a period of one week
- Build stage – The prototype is expanded into a real solution across 4-6 weeks
- Market stage – The solution becomes a fully-fledged commercial product within 4-8 weeks.
There have been more than 30 Hack2Build events until the time this course was published, with over 300 use cases supported so far. In future, participants will explore the possibilities of LCNC, especially in the context of how it can improve daily working life for citizen developers.
In our first Hear from the Experts clip, we’ll meet the following Hack2Build pros:
- Phillip Piri, Head of SAP Co-Innovation Lab in Southeast Asia
- Rudi Held, Head of SAP Co-Innovation Lab
- Tshepo Mahloko, SAP Co-Innovation Lab Africa
- Ronildo Santos, Head of SAP Co-Innovation Lab Latin America
Here’s a preview of what they’ll share:
"We wanted results beyond the hackathon prototype and to guide the partners beyond the hackathon phase. So, the ‘build’ part of Hack2Build is the actual building of a product."
"I think the name Hack2Build says it all. It’s about combining the agility of hackathons with a clear vision to commercialize the solution. We build commercial offerings together with the partners."
What are the components of a citizen developer hackathon?
Citizen developer hackathons don’t necessarily need to be super intense, but there are certain components that are key to a successful session, for example, it is important to use a multidisciplinary approach that blends technology and expertise from business domains.
Later in this unit, we’ll get into how to plan these kinds of sessions and decide on an outcome. It’s up to you and your team needs on what this hackathon or appathon will look like in the details, but we’ll see that the most effective sessions all have some elements in common.
Overall, a citizen developer hackathon should include the following:
- Diverse teams– Participants (including the supporting team) should not all come from the exact same background. They will benefit and learn the most when working closely with people from other areas of the company. These mixed groups of project managers, technical people, UI experts, business analysts, market specialists and business process experts who really understand the challenge can then work together "like a startup." They form a multidisciplinary digital business team that is capable of driving digital transformation.
- Time limit – Sessions don’t need to crunch everything into two days, but there should be some form of restriction on time. A designated time frame will really push the participants to dive into the tools and ideate quickly. For a simple no-code app or process, half a day may even be enough. Or, for something a bit more extensive you may plan for up to a week.
- Low-code/no-code tools– Since we are talking about citizen developers, these tools allow the perfect approach for non-technical teams to run their own "appathon" and start working with the software themselves. They can start learning and building solutions to solve their own problems without waiting for IT to help them get started – although someone familiar with the tools should at least be involved.
- Problem solving– In later lessons, we’ll discuss more about how to determine what sort of problems to identify fo digitalization, but even on a small scale, including an element of problem solving will help participants begin thinking about how they can apply their hackathon learnings to real life citizen development projects.
In the next segment of "Hear from the Experts," we’ll meet Sarah Detzler of SAP Competence Lead Data Science and Machine Learning, who has organized 12 hackathons in 2021 alone. She’ll share more about what they look like in practice.
Here’s a preview of what the experts will share:
"It’s not for people all from the same department. It’s not just for hardcore developers, but for very diverse teams. You should think of it like a startup – come with this mindset together with your colleagues.
"There’s an aspect of fun because they’re learning something new and trying to solve issues. The usage of technology like AppGyver helps the citizen developers in the team to collaborate. They’re not just contributing functional knowledge, they’re also part of the prototype."
In this lesson, we introduced you to citizen developer hackathons at SAP, including Hack2Build. You also met several experts who have organized professional hackathons and have seen firsthand the impact they can have on citizen developer teams. You also learned that while hackathons can look different in practice, the most successful events will include the following aspects: diversity, timing, low-code/no-code, and problem solving.
In the next lesson, we’ll start the fun and begin looking at a low-code/no-code appathon and how it scales down a hackathon into an engaging, activity for non-technical business users who want to create their own solutions.