This post was written by Microsoft UK employee Chris Huntingford as part of the Humans of IT Guest Blogger series. Chris' shares about his journey with Hack4Good - an event focused on bringing people together and giving back to society through tech at the Microsoft Business Applications Summit (MBAS).
It’s 11:45PM BST and the Hack4Good Microsoft Business Applications Summit (MBAS) team is preparing to kick-off 1 of 4 sessions in the inaugural “Follow the Sun” Power Platform Global Hackathon. We dial into the Microsoft Teams call bridge, and watched as the number of attendees increased steadily. We were scheduled to start at 09:00 AM AEST. By this time, folks from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and many other locations are saying hello, laughing with one another and setting the tone. It’s relaxed, fun and laced with excitement. Best of all, this is just the start!
The Power Platform Hack4Good events were set up within the TDG Community as a way to try and promote an inclusive mechanism for EVERYONE to be involved in this amazing tech and vibrant community. At the time, during the first 50-person hack at the Microsoft Reactor in London, we had no idea that this would become what it is now - a global, community-owned event focused on giving back to society, bringing people together in aiding organizations and people in crisis situations. The stats for the previous Hack4Good at MBAS 2019 are below.
As the day progressed, we kickstarted a new event in each of the 4 time zones. After AEST, it's IST (India) up next. Initially, we hadn't created a specific time zone category for these amazing people, but because of the interest and dedication, we decided to create one. AND (spoiler alert), the winning team actually came from India!
Third up, it's Europe! By this point, the organization team has been dropping into various Teams meetings from AEST and IST, checking out their tech and helping out where we can. We fire up the BST event and KAPOW - over 150 attendees on the call from all over the world, including South Africa, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Russia and so many more. The air is electric (pun intended) and EVERYONE is very excited. People get stuck in right after the presentations, and we get to check out a load of the solutions while they are being built.
At this point, we were just so absorbed by the inspiring things that people are creating around the world. There are Power Apps everywhere! We were bombarded with super cool-looking user interfaces that have embedded controls and flashy user experience layers that would make your typical designer drool. Teams were also dropping in Power Virtual Agent experiences to provide the conversational layer and embedding applications into Microsoft Teams to promote a flexible user experience. THERE IS DATA EVERYWHERE, being transmogrified into information within Power BI! The deeper we dive, the more automation we find. Teams are making an effort to make sure all of those manual processes are streamlined using the functionality within Power Automate.
By now, we were in full-on Geek mode, and it’s time to present to in the US time zone. We all pile onto the last call, and are welcomed by a large group of enthusiastic attendees. At this point, we officially have close to 400 participants hacking at once all over the globe - @Dona Sarkar and I probably only had about 1 hour of sleep in 36+ hours.
With most time zones now in full on hack mode, we had all sorts of (good) chaos going on. We had our time zone leads from all regions providing both tech and moral support. Our judges were getting involved and moving in and out of teams checking out the solutions. We even had members from OTHER teams and time zones hopping into competitive teams to help troubleshoot tech issues and solve problems. It’s an all-out global tech huddle with people just keen to do cool stuff for good.
We also had a virtual coffee bar and a virtual pub (The Bespoke Badger) running in parallel to all of this where people can come and hang out, talk nonsense, make friends and get to know some new folks. It provides an awesome virtual space for a good old chill session.
As the sun sets (or in some places, rises) depending on the various time zones, the individual team leads then submit their solutions to the time zone leads, who then consolidate all information and make it available for the judges. EVERYONE is exhausted and “coffee-d” out at this point! There were teams that hacked for the full 24 hours and didn’t sleep a wink.
Boy oh boy, did the judges have their work cut out for them. In total (across all 4 time zones), there were a total of 49 Hack for Good solutions submitted. WOW! Our judging panel got to work on Sunday and spent time running through each of the solutions and videos submitted! This was no easy task. Some time zones even got teams to complete certain challenges for badges, which counted towards their total score.
As the results rolled in, the judges announced their various time zone finalists on social media (see links below). IT WAS SO TENSE! We all wanted to know who made it through to the finals, where Microsoft’s very own Ryan Cunningham would select an overall winner.
AEST Finalist : Power Kiwi
IST Finalist : BTD (By the Devs)
BST Finalists : Automotive Gold & Crazy Power Solutions
CEST Finalists : Flow Fam & Fighting Faucis
ALL BRILLIANT submissions! Want to learn about these inspiring projects? Get access to all of the solutions generated during the hack HERE.
Everyone was amped to hear who the overall winner would be during the MBAS event. As Jon and Dona wrapped up MBAS, they played the announcement video from Ryan and of course (if you read my spoiler note above!) it was “By the Devs” from India, followed by Fighting Faucis from the US and Team Automotive Gold from the UK. Absolutely amazing effort from everyone, and kudos to all involved!
For more resources about this hackathon, visit the MBAS page on the Virtual Events Hub site. We would love to see you at the next one. Just remember... ANYONE AND EVERYONE IS WELCOME!
Huge shout out and massive amounts of thanks + credit to the people that were involved:
Tech Support & Streaming : Narayan Solanki
You must be a registered user to add a comment. If you've already registered, sign in. Otherwise, register and sign in.