Recognizing the Power of Hackathons
Credit Suisse Perspectives

Recognizing the Power of Hackathons

As the old saying goes, "two heads are better than one." However, when it comes to harnessing the beast of new technologies, even two might not be enough. A room full of clever heads may do the job, though. Hackathons are one of the ways Credit Suisse tackles the challenges and opportunities brought about by the digital revolution.

A hackathon in a nutshell is a creative problem-solving exercise. Programmers, developers, and sometimes non-technical specialists with various backgrounds are brought together to respond to a challenge in an innovative way. Side effects, such as networking, team-building, or charity contributions are much sought after benefits, too.

In the fast-moving digital world, hackathons are nothing new. The phenomenon took off several years ago, and it has been on Credit Suisse's radar for a couple of years now. To date, the bank has organized a number of internal hackathon gatherings, has sent employee teams to compete in external hackathons, and been involved as an organizing partner in internationally recognized events.

Responding to the Needs of the Digital World

Machine learning, big data, and bot creation, among many others, are typical topics for internal hackathons organized for Credit Suisse employees. Events can be as short as eight hours or can last up to 48 hours, but the goal is always the same – to run a friendly digital competition that produces a number of interesting discoveries.

Recently, Zurich hosted the "Future of Banking" hackathon, gathering over 100 Credit Suisse employees, including those with a sales and marketing background. During a two-day event, the participants tackled some of the most pressing digital challenges that the banking sector faces today. As an additional incentive, teams were asked to search for solutions to real-life problems. The hackathon was opened by the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Urs Rohner, who also visited the teams the next day to discuss the results.

Often smaller, one-location hackathons are dedicated to solving one particular issue, expanding knowledge, team-building, or charitable tasks. However, thanks to various solutions that have helped to combat distance, hackathons do not have to be restricted to a single location. In Credit Suisse, global hackathons run simultaneously in the bank's highly IT-saturated locations spanning Europe, America, and Asia.

Win-Win for All

Are hackathons just a fad? Or are they here to stay? Well, Credit Suisse sees great potential on many levels: team-building, new tech solutions, problem solving, or spotting new talent. As a company that recognizes the power of new technologies, we aim to combine the digital possibilities with the best of traditional banking. Therefore, we are expanding our presence on the hackathon scene. In 2018 alone we are planning to organize or take part in at least seven hacks across the globe. Watch out, tech communities in Raleigh, New York, Zurich, Hong Kong, Singapore, Warsaw, London – we're coming!