The workplace is constantly evolving. The way we work is forever changing and advancements in technology are moving more rapidly than ever before. Innovation is key, but where does it come from and more importantly, how do we develop it into a reality?
At some point we have all had that great idea, that one lightbulb thought that could change how we work, make a process faster or save ourselves some time. The problem is that we don’t always have the resources, background or skillset to make it happen, often leading to missed opportunities. But not at Cisco. This is where innovation is born.
Building on the success of our 2-day Hackathon event hosted in San Jose in July 2019, Cisco SVP Javed Khan held our first-ever virtual Collaboration Hackathon series in late 2020 to early 2021. The series featured one hackathon for our internal colleagues and one for external innovators – organised by Product Manager Ivy Pham. Individuals and teams were welcome to participate regardless of technical knowledge or experience. The only criteria to take part: a passion to innovate and a desire to make a change.
“During these challenging pandemic times, seamless and secure virtual experiences are more important than ever. This virtual hackathon is a fun way our community can come together to develop solutions that will make virtual communication and collaboration ‘better than being there’.”
The internal hackathon was open to all Cisco employees, harnessing the strength of our global workforce to provide diverse perspectives on the future of our industry. As a result, we had over 820 participants with nearly 500 submissions!
Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes. All ideas were welcome at the hackathon, but to help guide our hackers we created 3 key themes – Experience, Next Generation and Cross Architecture.
Experience – Focusing on our end users’ and customers’ experiences. Keeping this open to interpretation, participants could focus on day-to-day activities, operations and even analytics. Basically, keeping our customers top of mind and developing solutions to ensure they have the best experience possible.
Next Generation – The possibilities are endless when it comes to advancements in technology. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have changed how we all work, but we have only begun to scratch the surface. Here participants had the opportunity to create solutions that enable our users to work smarter, not harder.
Cross Architecture – The power of Cisco is the strength of our vast portfolio. Collaboration is just one aspect of this. Imagining innovative and creative concepts to integrate with our portfolio is game changing. This could include security, data, mobility and more.
Here are some of the solutions from the hackathon that blew us away:
Webex is a great tool for collaboration via messages. To-do list applications are great tools for tracking ongoing tasks. Checklister would automatically suggest to-do list items to the user and allow editing before storing the message as an action item. The to-do list store could be native to Webex or third-party integrations.
While business’s adoption of video calling tools for customer service is on the rise, not all people are avid computer users. This translates into frustration when joining Webex meetings. Cisco Webex Haiku is an online drag-and-drop editor for creating your own Webex client portal, as simple and powerful as your business needs it.
See the full list of winners below:
We know that great ideas come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes a totally fresh perspective can reimagine how we work and the tools we use. With this in mind, we opened the external hackathon globally to people over the age of 18. Similar to our internal hackathon, we encouraged people to participate regardless of technical knowledge or experience. Everyone with an interest in innovation was welcome. As a result, we were delighted to see an enormous interest in university students signing up to take part (over 1100) – after all, they are the future of our industry.
To help guide our external participants we also provided two optional themes. The first was Cisco Webex and Collaboration with a key focus on the end user experience. The second was social good – creating new solutions that have a positive impact on people, society or the planet. In total we had nearly 250 teams participate and a whopping 60 winners. Below are a few highlights and the full winners list:
Sanitary Pad Dispensing Machine
The idea is an affordable and easy to operate sanitary pad dispensing machine. The project has been designed with the motive of providing 24/7 availability of sanitary pads to women, especially in rural regions where there is a lot of social stigma attached to this particular issue. One of the main objectives of this project was to make the topic of menstruation more mainstream so that parents could talk to their daughters more freely, friends could support each other, and women would not feel ashamed of something that is natural to them and a part of their life.
Webex Knowledge Extractor
This is a tool that integrates with Webex and allows questions and answers to be displayed and indexed for search based on threaded messaging. The dashboard interface will allow the end user to login via OAuth and select a room to be analyzed for Questions which have been answered by experts, then export to Excel or import into external systems for knowledge base articles.
Never miss a beat with Joey Notifications in Webex! Joey is the perfect solution to make working from home more people centric. Set reminders to stretch and take care of your health throughout the day. Joey is designed to engage you with little tips such as yoga videos or recipes and uses AI image detection to evaluate your health. Joey Notifications is the perfectly tailored plugin for you and your team!
These are just a few examples of the hundreds of innovative and creative ideas submitted during the hackathon series. Some of these amazing ideas will be put forward to our collaboration group and considered for further development.
Hackathons are just one of the many events we hold each year to spark innovation within our organization.
Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming events and one day your idea could become part of our collaboration offering!