Innovation is at the heart of everything we do – no really, it is! We don’t just say it to tick off an item off the buzzword list, or to follow in the steps of our competitors. Innovation is in our DNA. Our super talented people build outstanding solutions and continuously improve them, working towards ensuring people can connect with confidence. Innovation is also one of our four key values that we live by at Irdeto, because it is riddled in our solutions, culture, and people.

At Irdeto, we run an internal, annual Hackathon that brings together colleagues from across the globe to participate in 26 hours of innovation to inspire, collaborate and innovate together anywhere. More than 25% of Irdeto employees have taken part in the global Hackathon this year, with many different departments being included. Those that have sent in ideas, people that have contributed to conceiving and enriching ideas and those that participate on the day itself are all involved in making the event a success.

The global Hackathon includes many of our offices, including our teams found in Paris and Denver, not forgetting our remote workers that also got their hands messy during the event, including those in the UK, Seattle, and Minnesota, making it a true, inclusive event. Regardless of where people are based, they can get involved, making for a unique experience.

While the word Hackathon might suggest that we’re breaking something down and hacking into it, we’re actually constructing and building new ideas and bringing to light new solutions for existing problems, and all of that in a single day. The Hackathon is the ideal day of the year where ideas can be kickstarted! Support from our Senior Management means that all employees have this day on their agenda, leaving no chance for it to be forgotten about. This also means that we can get people together that usually would not be able to make it. Even though most ideas aren’t entirely solved in one day, their solution is well under way – remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Innovation Marketplace

Recently, we have implemented a new innovation platform, based on the HYPE Enterprise Suite by HYPE Innovation, that not only collects new, innovative ideas, but allows people to follow the ideas they’re interested in and enrich the ideas by encouraging discussion. The platform enables individuals to stay up to date with what’s happening in the innovation space at Irdeto and provides them with transparency as to where an idea is at and who is the driving force behind the solution.

The Preparations

The Hackathon is organized in two steps. The first part of getting the event underway is made up of employees sending ideas – these can be problems that have gone unsolved for too long, or valuable goals for Irdeto to achieve. We welcome ideas from anyone, but sometimes, those that produce the ideas are not those who solve them, and that is why we need the whole company to come together to support solution generation. We have recently moved to a virtual Hackathon to maneuver throughout the pandemic, allowing us to go truly global. But this year, with changing restrictions, we had a hybrid event where some could go to the office, and some would join from their homes virtually.

The second step is getting employees signed up to the idea that they would like to work on. We form teams based on common passions to give the idea a head start in getting solved. Before the Hackathon event, we started using our new platform, the Innovation Marketplace, where people can enrich the ideas before the event. In the days leading up to the event, there was a vast amount of discussion on the platform, allowing people to get involved despite zone differences, time constraints or conflicting commitments in more than just one idea. This means we have access to a vast pool of knowledge in a bid to solve as many ideas as possible.

To get the most out of the dedicated day, we set up the technical environments for the technical teams ahead of time and supply online tools for those taking part in the non-technical ideas so they can hit the ground running. We also supply webinar training for those leading sessions so that they can be prepared to help and lead the hackathon group to success.

What are the outcomes of the Hackathon?

We tend to categorize ideas into types:

Non-technical – Welcomes participants of any capacity to solve an issue.

Technical – These issues have three stages of maturity.

Technical – Build – The goal and approach (the road to get there) are defined, they just need the manpower.

Technical – Design – The goal is defined, but the approach is not. These might include looking for a way to improve an existing process, or a performance comparison of three possible approaches.

Technical: Research – The goal is unknown, and that’s exactly what they set they set out to explore: what’s desirable, feasible and viable for us to do in a certain space or with a certain technology.

We’ve had a lot of success with the non-technical ideas, and they have garnered a great deal of support from people. An example of this includes our Corporate Social Responsibility program and working alongside the African Wildlife Fund (AWF).

This year, a great example of different people coming together to solve problems occurred with the Sales team joining forces with Engineers to solve real problems in the markets we operate in. While this would seem a natural process, life sometimes gets in the way and communication across regions isn’t always the easiest. The day gave these people time and space to come together to work on technology and address issues we were facing.

Why does this matter to our employees?

We love to share the news surrounding our passion for innovation. From the Hackathon itself to Innovation Sabbaticals, these events ignite and engage the employees to get involved! Our employees love discovering people that also have the same passions as them, which is not something you would typically discover in your day-to-day, or over lunch. The Hackathon is the start of both finding ideas that need to be solved, but also finding connections that can help you in achieving those goals. Finally, the Hackathon provides an opportunity for employees to improve their skills, and trial modern technologies

While the Hackathon might be the most exciting innovation event we host at Irdeto, we ensure opportunities are open for our employees to have an outlet for their creative thoughts, contributions, and ideas. These outlets also include time during onboarding, problem identification workshops, technology focus groups, innovation sabbaticals, and innovation tournaments; all of which occur globally across our 14 locations.