2015 CMGt Hackathon
You may have heard the buzz – CMG Technology hosted its first annual Hackathon with teams taking a step back from their day-to-day work to tackle new technology solutions.
This event was designed to support two key CMGt strategic priorities – innovation and culture. “Our team wants to continue to collaborate and innovate – not to mention have fun at the work we do,” said Mark Beck, VP, Technology. “This was an opportunity for the teams to rally around our overall vision and to present their ideas to an esteemed panel of judges. The outcome (success/failure) was less important than the process and the opportunity to work together in this way. Although, by the end of the event, we came away with some very good ideas that will be implemented as we move forward.”
OPENING NIGHT CELEBRATION (The Ice-Breaker)
The Hackathon is an opportunity for CMGt and our Partners to travel from various locations, work together towards a common goal, and strengthen partnerships along the way. One of the ways we facilitate this – is by offering several structured and unstructured opportunities for individuals at all levels of the participating organizations to get to know one another and talk about common interests – professional or otherwise. On opening night, we host an ice-breaker event to get the team’s to know one another and begin building momentum and energy for the onsite kickoff.
The CMGt Hackathon is an engaging event for CMGt employees, leadership, and our sponsoring partners alike. Our event opener is when the teams learn about the theme for the Hackathon.
Anchored by CMGt’s vision to propel CMG’s success with exceptional solutions, strategies and service that surprise and delight, seven teams of developers and other CMGt pros were given the following challenge. If it were up to you, how would you:
- Propel CMG’s success
- Delight and surprise our customers
- Better know our customers and anticipate their needs
- Create a compelling new business idea
- Excel in operations
TEAMS BEGIN WORK
Teams are assigned a conference room and begin. All work takes place on-site at the CMGt’s operational HQ, One-Tech Center.
ONSITE ACTIVITIES @ 223 – ONE TECH CENTER
While our teams work with passion and courage towards introducing another set of innovation initiatives, we also take the opportunity to decompress, network, and learn more about our partners.
The teams had from 10 a.m. Thursday to 1 p.m. Friday to cultivate and develop their solution, and build a 15 minute presentation for the distinguished panel of judges:
- Leon Levitt, VP of Strategic Development
- Ron Curtis, VP Product Development for Videa
- Derek Robinson, VP Strategy & Corporate Development
The Hackathon’s planners’ goal was to end up with one or two strong solutions for CMGt’s business partners. The actual results were far greater.
The winning team created an app for the next generation of Apple TV, which at the time had not yet been released to the public. The app will allow CMG stations’ content to be streamed directly from the new device. Since they had a little “extra time” during the Hackathon’s 27 hours, they also created an Android version. The second place team created “fetcher.news,” a dynamic news site that makes content personalization super-easy. Users can discover and consume content by simply swiping right to save content to their reading list and swiping left to ignore it.
First Place & People’s Choice Winner: Team Silent Ninjas
Innovation: This team created an app for the next generation of Apple TV, which at the time had not yet been released to the public. The app will allow CMG stations’ content to be streamed directly from the new device. Since they had a little “extra time” during the Hackathon’s 27 hours, they also created an Android version.
Second Place Winner: Team Anonymous Cormorant
Innovation: The second place team created “fetcher.news,” a rendering of a dynamic news site that makes content personalization super-easy. Users can discover and consume content by simply swiping right to save content to their reading list and swiping left to ignore it.
The judges were impressed with the outcomes: “Only thing I regret was all CMG didn’t see this,” said Leon Levitt. “These were live products, not PowerPoint presentations of what you might be able to do.”
Ron Curtis agreed, “What I wasn’t expecting was the energy, the passion, the entertainment value. CMGt has a lot to be proud of. The innovation that was on display was very impressive. The teams’ ability to execute in such a short period of time really showcased the skills in house. And I’ll say, the time spent watching the final presentations flew by – they were all fun and engaging.”
“We saw a lot of great things today. The action happens here in the field,” Derek Robinson said, to the teams about their work. “Thanks for the passion. Thanks for making stuff happen!”
Seven teams participated in the event. Each team had 15 minutes, including audience Q&A, to present their project to the judges who selected the first and second place winners. All CMGt staff had a chance to vote for the People’s Choice Award. While only three prizes could be awarded, most, if not all, of the solutions will likely be put into production to benefit the business.
Each team came up with their own name and Pilar Plata, CMGt Newspaper Team’s User Experience (UX) Designer, designed badges for each one. Pilar also won the Hackathon’s t-shirt design contest, creating the winning logo that appeared on the event banners.
CMGt’s partners sponsored the prizes. Each first place team member received round trip airfare for them and a companion (max value $500 per person) and a rotational trophy that will be displayed at One Tech Center. Each second place winner was awarded an iPad Air and the People Choice Award winners were given an Amazon Echo.
First Place & People’s Choice Winner! Team Silent Ninjas
AJ Leeds, Jon Thornton, Ed Williams, Jim Borg, Elijah Boston, and Shawn Frame
This team created an app for the next generation of Apple TV, which at the time had not yet been released to the public. The app will allow CMG stations’ content to be streamed directly from thenew device. Since they had a little”extra time” during the Hackathon’s 27 hours, they alscreated an Android version.
Second Place Winner! Team Anonymous Cormorant
Krishna Patel, Kurtis Mullins, Barbara Shaurette, Mark Ransom, Jesse Heady, and Sara Skinner
The second place team created “fetcher.news,” a rendering of a dynamic news site that makes content personalization super-easy. Users can discover and consume content by simply swiping right to save content to their reading list and swiping left to ignore it.
Team Hack Wars
Michael Prater, Lan Mai, Eric Huret, Richard Royal, Dane Bamburry, and Andrew Kuchling
NewsSpeak is an app that will read aloud the news that is most important to you when you want it. It can be used while driving, working out or when you just don’t have time to watch TV or a video. You can personalize what you hear by choosing from specific categories or simply clicking the latest top news.
Team Rogue Coders
Sam Davison, Faruq Hunter, Braham Pandey, Joseph Price, Paris Hart, and Gerard Sanders
This team created a solution that brings the convenience of a mobile app to the support and monitoring of critical information systems. The app reduces the time to assess and respond to processing failures in information flows between systems. Not only does it allow the support team to respond more quickly to issues, it also frees them to do this critical work remotely during non-business hours. The intention is to build out this solution for our primary information systems first and then extend it to other systems, such as analytics.
Team Robot Unicorns
Rob Combs, Jennifer Leadbetter, Rich Vazquez, Alan Burchette, Rebecca Fandino, and Kevin Smith
The Hyperlocal app/site this team developed blends personalization, geotagging, and an integrated event solution to make being hyperlocal a very intuitive experience. It was developed using Méthode, one of the new CMS solutions CMGt will be implementing, and Points Local, a new events vendor currently under consideration.
Team Mergers with Masters
Chris DiGanci, Paul Bissex, Michael Andrus, Aaron McMillin, Marcus Smith, and Travis Thomsen
The Video Tron app created by this team allows users to look for specific patterns in large video feeds and to hone-in on specific types of events. For example, if you like trains, you could give Video Tron security camera feeds of a railroad crossing and it would cut through hours of footage to get to the seconds where a train is passing. This has the potential to make sense of video in a way that we have not been able to do previously.
Team Winter is Coming
Jon Robison, Tim Willis, Drew Nase, Ian Burnette, Maysam Heydari, and Kiran Guduru.
This team created Project Hodor, a learning content recommendation engine that personalizes the user experience by offering custom-curated content according to what each user likes. It uses innovative machine learning algorithms based on the content users consume, geographical location, and time of day. This is the future of content delivery, and promises the most effective way to more closely engage with the reader.
CLOSING NIGHT CELEBRATION (Wrap Party)
Team members worked long-hours, partners had opportunities make new connections and strengthen old ones, and CMG has a portfolio of new ideas ready to be further explored and brought to market. The event closes with a Wrap-Party.
THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS
Key CMG partners helped sponsor the event. They covered costs including prizes, food, social events, t-shirts, banners, and more. “Thanks to our sponsor’s generosity, we were able to do the event at a minimal cost to CMG,” said Mark.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the event. We had great leadership from our planning team. We had great involvement from our vendor sponsors, and we had great participation from our employees. In addition to all this, most if not all, of these ideas will be implemented to help support our business,” concluded Mark. “This event was a pilot for us to work out the kinks. We are looking forward to hosting this event again next year and perhaps expanding it outside of CMGt to involve people from other Cox teams.”