The PNI June Hack-a-thon

The Pursuit of Quality

PNI Media’s reputation is built on the engagement of its people and the production of best-in-class software. Quality minds working together create quality work that marries form, function and security all in balance, all equally prioritized. So this June, we had our first PNI hack-a-thon with the idea of bringing teams together to try something new, to test their skills, and to have a bit of fun doing it. With that in mind, we set our teams to work over June 3rd and 4th to see what they could come up with. And they did not disappoint.


The Challenge

The challenge was to create something cool and inspiring; a new tool that could benefit our retailers and our Platform. What we do is intrinsically tied to evolving technologies with untapped capabilities and the hack-a-thon was an opportunity to think differently about what we have and what hasn’t yet been done. It was an outlet for the considerable creative and technical skill that we have here at PNI to show off, to stretch their legs and to spark some healthy competition.

The guidelines as laid out by PNI Development Manager Sam Sullivan were wrapped around a simple imperative, to seek out new ways to approach the following: interpretation of our data (what else can it tell us?); leverage bots; enhance our images; platform improvement; new channel creation; leveraging Azure.

Ready. Set. Go.


Challenge Accepted

Five teams took part in PNI’s hack-a-thon with our very own Account Manager Nadine Phillip and her Level Up Lunch Club supplying the healthy food that kept the competitors’ synapses firing.

As we hoped, the event demonstrated the entrepreneurial spirit that we espouse at PNI Media. Our colleagues showed off their leadership, teamwork, coding and development skills while cracking jokes and generally having a good time. The enthusiasm, incredible ideas and rapid speed of implementation was inspiring to see.


The Winners!

Each team demoed their work for a panel of PNI management members and as they will attest, picking a winner wasn’t easy – it literally came down to the last vote cast!

Overall Winner: Team “iDroid” comprised of PNI’s Rotem, Ben, Steve & Pete. For their use of machine learning APIs to automatically tag images in order to intelligently suggest image groupings and priorities to make smart product recommendations.

Runners Up: Team "Only Here for the Pizza” comprised of PNI’s Frankie, Chris & Tom. For their use of Real Time Messaging to enable a real time, peer to peer, collaborative builder experience with the potential to extend it to customer service sessions and more.

Notable Mentions: Team “Not so Mani” (Mani); Team “Kleptomanihacks” (Gary, Arthur, Steve); Team “42” (Eugene, Geoff, Alex). 

The first PNI Hack-a-Thon was such a success that you can bet we’re coming back for more.

A lot of companies believe that Innovation and Efficiency can coexist. The truth is, innovation is not efficient, it’s a floor littered with crumpled up ideas; it’s a room filled with empty pizza boxes and half-consumed cups of cold coffee. Real innovation is a messy, frustrating mix of small successes and big failures that lead a good team to the big idea, to the big solution, or to flipping the table and starting over. Hack-a-Thon’s are a way to instill a lot of fun into that messy process and to garner some surprising and innovative results.

Special thanks to Sam Sullivan and the Development Management Team for organizing this amazing event!

Here’s to many more to come.