It was Saturday morning and I awoke early to head into Tower 42, and the London Hitachi Solutions office. I was far from annoyed working on a weekend as it was the day of the Power Platform Hackathon. A day for my fellow consultants to come in, powered by enthusiasm, energy and excitement, and to collaborate with each other around the Microsoft Stack.
It started with an opening presentation and discussion from Microsoft Partner Technology Architect Bruce Nicholson on how the Power Platform has come to be. He followed this up with how the adoption of the Power Platform, as a low-code development platform, is flourishing and is enabling the creation of applications that have adoption growing exponentially! Bruce wrapped up with an empowering overview of how this is only the beginning of this new age of business applications and that a revolution is possible by folding in Artificial Intelligence into the Power Platform and the Microsoft stack.
Next, Chris and I presented a brief overview of the Power Platform and provided a sample solution demonstration of the set objective. The objective was to build both a Canvas and a Model-Driven Power App that not only utilised the Common Data Service, but also connected to several other source systems that focused around customer management and a 360 degree view of a customer. These source systems included:
Powered by far too many espressos (thank you Lucy) we were ready! We ran through the demo and the consultants knew what they had to do; now the fun could begin! The participants were separated into eleven teams. With a collection of beautiful minded consultants bringing a wealth of skills, the 4.5-hour countdown began!
We were privileged to have some absolutely amazing external guests attend. These included: Samit Saini from Heathrow (Microsoft PowerApps Champion), Keith Whatling from Arriva buses (Microsoft PowerApps Champion) and Rory Neary (all round legend). These champions were ever-present and extremely supportive in spreading their ideas, passion and enthusiasm for the platform with our consultants, which was welcomed, open armed!
The attendees used a “Hackathon Management App” powered by the Power Platform, that allowed them to communicate with other teams, be notified of official announcements (i.e. “Lunch is here”, “30 minutes left”), request assistance, and look up details of the environments they had been assigned to.
What fuelled the event you ask? The answer… Over 150 cans of fizzy drinks, 5 kilograms of chocolate, countless pastries and around 300 slices of Pizza! These were consumed to power synaptic action potentials whilst the various teams collaborated around their solution to win the meet the objective. Amazingly, the participants were so fully engaged that there was not a stampede for the pizza as predicted – everyone was too interested and focused on using the Power Platform! What an amazing crowd!
The clock was ticking and the final touches, panic adjustments and sudden last-minute ideas were happening. In what seemed like only a couple of minutes overall, time was called – everyone started to assemble and the participants presented their solutions. There was everything from Santa sleigh animations overlaying financial information, to beautiful floral infused user interfaces utilising various controls and data sources.
Now that the excitement had reached its peak and all the solutions had been present, it was time to commence the judging. This was incredibly difficult, as all of the teams had provided amazing solutions. So the crack team of Bruce Nicholson, David Singh, Sajeel Afzal, Alpesh Mistry, Michelle Maden, Dean Clements, Chris Huntingford, Kyle Hill, Michael Holness and myself did what anyone would do when faced with a highly subjective decision where you would like everyone to win! We delegated to our rock start community guests, ha (thank you, Rory, Keith, and Samit)!
After much anticipation, the winner was announced… Congratulations to the Brown team! The judges were impressed by the Brown team’s solution and how it was able to meet the objectives, and utilise the Power Platform through a data-led approach. However, the overall levels of collaboration and creative thinking were highlight by the judges and the breadth of solutions presented was truly impressive and awe-inspiring.
No good hackathon is complete without a healthy dose of after-hours socialising, which of course meant heading down to a local watering hole and sharing some war stories about the day and continuing the discussions of the Power Platform. There was also some select entertainment available thanks to Euan throwing down some shapes ‘on the dance floor’.
From a Hitachi Solutions and broader community perspective, these events are incredibly important as they both allow people to disseminate and learn new skills, and to show Hitachi Solutions and their incredible staff at their best. This was clearly evident in the levels of collaboration, enthusiasm, passion, and energy on display, which ultimately leads to the delivery of the very best solutions for our clients through the utilisation of the Microsoft Stack. This is what it is all about: a strong helping of community spirit in an environment where we live and thrive in!
Thank you to the management team for allowing us to throw such events, and in particular to Sajeel Afzal and Dean Clements for supporting this one! It was great to see the senior leadership team supporting our consultants throughout the event.
Stay tuned for the next event! Did someone say AI…