At the beginning of March, SPOC attended the 2018 ServiceNow partner summit in Barcelona. The summit also included a Hackathon, allowing the technical wizards to showcase their skills.
SPOC was keen to participate and put forward a team to take part in the competition. This was the first event of its kind for the company. To give you a better idea of the Hackathon experience, please see below an interview with Dominik Kraśniewski.
Dominik is the Head of Delivery, who attended the event to support SPOC’s efforts.
Dominik’s main role at the Hackathon was to support the team with their ideas and the design of the overall solution.
In his usual day to day work, Dominik’s experience as a Project Manager and wide knowledge of the ServiceNow platform, makes him an ideal fit for Head of Delivery. Dominik works closely with the management at SPOC to filter the strategic plans into the day to day activities, helping to provide the best possible solutions to each of SPOC’s customers.
Q: What was the Hackathon?
The event was open to worldwide partners who wanted to attend the session held in Barcelona. There were around 100 participants, each competing for a top three place.
The high-level brief was ‘Intelligent Applications’. The hackathon was then broken into 4 categories. Enabling the teams to decide the area they wanted to focus on.
The categories were –
Cat 1 – Platform for a diversity program – An internal community platform for businesses. Allowing people from different backgrounds to interact, share ideas and engage.
Cat 2 – Having fun with Kingston – ServiceNow recently released Kingston, the latest version of the platform.
Hackers were tasked to make use of the new functionalities, such as Intelligent Automation, Flow Designer, Integration Hub etc.
Cat 3 – Can we have Marketing budget please? – An application to structure and automate the process of allocating ServiceNow funds for co-marketing efforts, raised and driven by channel partners.
Cat 4 – Open Category – No rules, no boundaries. Using ServiceNow to see what can you create!
Q: Dominik, please tell us which of the categories did you participate in?
We decided to enter Category 1. This was the main focus for the Hackathon and we felt it was a good brief, which allowed us to create a useful and valuable application.
Q: Why did you and SPOC want to attend the event?
The team really wanted the opportunity to compare skills against other competitors. We felt that it would provide a good gauge for where we are with quality, ideas, and an overall understanding of the platform.
Sometimes, smaller partners can get overshadowed by the bigger companies. We also saw it as a way to boost the image of the company and show people we exist!
Q: What was the overall aim and approach?
Essentially, we wanted to complete a sort of reconnaissance. This was the first event the team had competed in.
We had a vague understanding of the rules and what it was all about but no one knew what to expect. We certainly weren’t expecting to finish so strongly! It was our aim to showcase our skills and see what happened.
Q: What did SPOC create?
As you know the competition was split into multiple categories. SPOC chose to compete in Cat 1, creating a collaboration solution, to bring people from different backgrounds and cultures together.
Our approach was to allow people to share the same experiences. This could include; a trip to the movies, going out for a meal or a drink. In essence, any event where people could meet and spend time in each other’s company; from going to the races, to playing board games.
The application allowed people to sign up and stay informed of these events.
Q: Please share some specific details, how did you build it? What did it look like?
Our main objective was to create a simple, clean, easy to use application. A solution that could be deployed by any company and used by any employee; regardless of the department they worked in.
It was built using the Service Portal Technology in ServiceNow.
There were four main tiles, which allowed users to – Create an event, browse events they had created, see events they were about to attend and browse all events.
Underneath the main tiles, the user is shown “recommended events”. These are based on preferences and tags; defined in the user profile when they created their login details.
Q: If this is built on the SP and you’re already thinking of providing recommendations, is this something which could also leverage AI and machine learning?
Yes exactly. Currently, your profile determines the events you may want to attend (based on the specified tags).
There is no reason why the application couldn’t use historical data to provide better suggestions.
This information could be based on your previous events, those attended by your colleagues and friends, people of a similar age etc. Machine learning would be a perfect tool to support this use case.
Q: How many people were involved from SPOC and what were their responsibilities?
At the event, you could have a team of up to 8 people but with SPOC being so busy, we decided to try with a team of 5.
There were; 3 Developers, 1 Technical Consultant & 1 Project Manager (Me)
PM – I helped define the vision of the product and work with the design and layout. I also assisted with the testing, to make sure each function worked as intended and helped a bit during the presentation.
Tech Consultant – He was mainly responsible for the architecture and helping with the development.
The Devs – Completed the development of the functionality.
Everyone worked with a very collaborative approach, using constant communication to create the application.
This worked. It was nice as we were sharing the same table and it was easy to keep each other informed with what we were doing.
Q: Did you finish?
Unbelievably…. Yes! It was very tight and we were working until the last minute to make sure everything was complete.
Q: What would be required to launch this app into a customer’s environment?
As long as they were satisfied with the look and feel and the functionality, not a lot.
This product could be launched as a really useable solution. The feedback from those at the event was that there is value with the application. It could be used with most companies.
There are interesting features too, with integrations with the Google API (suggesting full addresses and displaying location on a map).
Plus QR codes are also working and functional. Meaning once an event is created a QR is generated, you can then share this on posters or leaflets; increasing awareness and the chances for others to attend.
As an estimate, to get the app ready to go live in a real environment, it would take approximately 2 days.
Q: Wow, that’s pretty impressive. What did you learn from the event and the experience?
We really enjoyed the Hackathon and finishing in the top 3 was very satisfying and not something we were expecting.
It seemed that other teams at the event may have been a little more prepared. SPOC approached this a raw hackathon, completing everything within the event.
I’m really pleased with the guys and proud of our efforts. We gave everything during the 8 hours and fought to complete the work, literally up to the last minute!
As I’ve mentioned the top three finish made it all worthwhile and hopefully boosted our reputation a little in the ServiceNow ecosystem.