Lena Raschke



34 colleagues from 20 countries met up at their very first Hackathon in Budapest. They programmed  their hearts out! And the result was seven prototypes which will improve the internal social enterprise network “You and Me” for around 127,000 colleagues even more and underscore an even greater international team spirit! 

Our international Hackathon Team

Our international Hackathon Team

This is what a Hackathon is all about. 

A lot of colleagues had question marks hovering over their heads whilst observing the seven teams at the congress centre in Budapest. The 34 participants where sticking post its on the windows and were sitting fully concentrated infront of their laptops. Hackathon is a combination of the words “Hack” and “Marathon”. Programming competitions are often tagged so. However, “competition” as such is not correct  in this context. It’s not all about winning but much more about team spirit – being part of it is the climax.

The Hackathon idea was born in June 1999. At that time the participants of the “JavaOne Conference” were asked to develop software for the pocket calculator “Palm V”. The company and the calculator have long disappeared from the scene, however the format has continued to thrive. Unlike the nerd cliché lone warrior, it’s community which counts - enthusiasts who thrive on team creativity and technology.

Within the space of 24 hours concrete innovations – not only thoughts put to paper – originate. Participants of a Hackathon think “Out of the box”: The idea is to leave old and conventional processes behind and move on to freedom of thought. Success is easily explained: Hackathon is the perfect way to implement new ideas quickly and to come up with the respective prototypes.

This fascinates companies about organized chaos

Companies, due to long-standing processes, need to consult numerous times before a product actually hits the market. Hackathon’s stimulate innovation and innovative ideas. The democratize innovation which leads to more agility within the company, this  would shipwreck within  the conventional structures! Employees take a break from their daily business to work on ideas and solutions for a particular topic within a set period of time. Participants from different nations, companies and departments can meet up, which possibly would not have happened during their daily work. One of the most famous products which resulted from a Hackathon is the “Like” button on Facebook – chances are that most people have already used it. This only goes to prove that ideas do not always come from the driver’s seat of a company nor the innovation department.

The tingle at our #tbarhack

In Budapest we brought together seven international teams from eight nations. We only had eight weeks to identify the required developers within the company and to collect their ideas. From 35 submitted ideas, seven prototypes were created for our enterprise social network “You and me” within the space of 24 hours. Amongst them an internal Doodle and an “Expert Finder” for the whole company. We have strengthened the developers community within Deutsche Telekom across all borders. It’s such a great feeling to see how a Hackathon evokes enthusiasm and innovation within the community. If you ever get the chance to join a Hackathon, then grasp it and experience the spirit personally. For sure: Hackathons are not only meant for developers and programmers – and it most certainly will not be the last one! In September we will once again open our doors to welcome external teams to the Hackathon in Bonn. The topic is Smart City and details will follow shortly.