When getting hacked is a good thing

It’s going to be a long night for employees of the Rockfish digital solutions firm as they conduct a first of its kind event called a "Hackathon," designed to yield rapid innovation.

Seventy-five Rockfish employees at the firm’s offices in Dallas, Cincinnati and Rogers, Ar., will participate in the 24 hour event that begins this afternoon at 5 p.m. Cross functional teams of programmers, designers and employees from other disciplines will collaborate to learn emerging technologies and create forward-thinking digital products. After 24 hours of crafting their ideas, at 5 p.m. on Saturday the teams will pitch concepts to a panel of judges consisting of representatives of the company’s client base which includes Walmart, Sam’s Club, Tyson, Arvest and Cisco. Judges will be looking for business feasibility and technological sophistication resulting from the around the clock exercise in cross functional collaboration and digital product development.

"It’s in our DNA at Rockfish to rapidly innovate and problem-solve for our clients," said Bill Akins, vp of client services at Rockfish. "The Hackathon will encourage us to continue to push the envelope – the more technically ambitious an idea is, the better."

As for the name Hackathon, the reference no longer carries the nefarious connotation it once did. It also now means developing a big idea to solve a problem or achieve the type of breakthrough innovation for which start ups are known. That start up mentality is something Rockfish is looking to stimulate by having employees pull an all nighter.

"When you look at how CPG companies are looking to align themselves with retailers and better engage with consumers it is important that they think more like start ups," Akins said. "That is one of the main objectives of Hackathon. We want to help companies drive astonishing innovation in a short period of time."

The emphasis on speed is understandable given the pace of change in the digital space and the intense activity underway with @Walmart Labs.

"There has never been a better time to approach Walmart with interesting ideas," Akins said.


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