The coronavirus pandemic is a global moment of hardship, uncertainty, and mortal risk. But in this shared time of great adversity, there is collective concentration to innovate, investigate, and overcome. It is in this spirit that Microsoft MVPs came together from the comfort of their own quarantined homes to do just that.
Just as many hands make light work, many coders solve big problems – and this concept was on show at Hack4GoodMBAS. The global hack, which was the second edition of the event held before the Microsoft Business Applications Summit 2020, saw almost 400 Microsoft Powerapp-ers from around the world hack on the same day with the aim of building solutions to assist during and post-coronavirus.
Building what the organizers refer to as a “neural network of awesomeness”, the hack asked the community to leverage their technical expertise to improve the crisis.
The rules were simple: The more than 55 teams would be given 24 hours to create whatever solution they saw fit, with start times staggered in order to cater to the participants from more than 40 countries.
Judge Elaiza Benitez, who reviewed team submissions from Australian, New Zealand and India with fellow judge with Mark Smith, said it was exciting to see the depth and breadth of ideas on display.
“The best bit is knowing they are all working apart by being remote but together at the same time,” said Elaiza.
Andrew Welch, who served with Emma D’Arcy as regional lead for the Americas, said he was amazed at how teams simply got on with the job and stayed engaged throughout the virtual event. This hack brought great people together to create great solutions, Andrew said.
“First and foremost I enjoy the close personal friendships that I share with others in the community. It’s an added bonus that we’re a flock of profound geeks who can talk for hours about Power Platform adoption, business automation, data culture, and the like. University was the only other era of my life that has produced such close friendships, so to encounter such a group down the road in the professional world has been unexpected but most welcome. This community is filled with warm, decent, caring humans from around the world,” he said.
“The Microsoft community is a place where people connect and thrive from each other's knowledge ... Our Microsoft community is amazing,” Elaiza added.
Asia Pacific timezone co-lead Lisa Crosbie said the event brought a huge range of people together, including students, consultants, professional developers, and CIOs.
"We enabled teams of people – some who had never met until the start of the event – innovate and build and learn. This community to me is all about energy, learning, fun, lifting others, and friendship. Especially now, those were all things I really needed," she said.
Lisa, who co-managed the APAC timezone with Ee Lane Yu, said the weekend hack only highlighted the best of the Microsoft community.
“I spent my entire weekend (virtually) with the organising team – a group of people in Australian, New Zealand, India, UK, USA, who constantly encouraged and helped each other, laughed and joked together, and made something that seemed impossible a reality. All weekend I heard people telling each other they were awesome and doing an amazing job,” she said.
Each region picked their best submission from the event, with the overall winner announced at the MSBizApps Summit. More important than the winner, however, was the continual and returning community support for such hacking events.
Hacking for good runs deep within the Microsoft community, with the same organizing team behind the MBAS Hack4Good, the Global Hack4Good, and last year’s MBAS Hack4Good.
Instead of one-off events, these hacks are part of an ongoing effort from the community to be the change they want to see in the world.
This particular event, though, goes to show that awesome things can still be achieved even when people are not in the same room. For more information, visit the Hack4Good website.