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Introducing idEAte: Environics Analytics' First Hackathon

Published Oct 31, 2023, 08:44 AM by Andrew Komaromy - Vice President of Software Product Management, Environics Analytics
Unlocking creativity, fostering collaboration and pioneering innovation


For the first time in our company's history, we hosted our very own hackathon, aptly named idEAte. In less than 48 hours, 12 cross-functional teams—comprising members from every corner of the company—came together to brainstorm, develop and present feasible business ideas complete with mockups and prototypes. The endeavour wasn't just an exercise in creativity; it was a remarkable testament to what can be achieved when a diverse team collaborates under the banner of innovation, all with the goal of improving the lives of EA’s customers or employees.

The success of idEAte was by no means an accident. It was a meticulously-planned event that closely aligned with our corporate objectives. The hackathon:

  • Created a dynamic environment where employees could collaborate, learn and contribute directly to the company's ongoing success
  • Encouraged an agile mindset, equipping the company with the ability to adapt to ever-changing market conditions
  • Paved the way for innovative growth opportunities, be it new product lines, market expansion, or even strategic partnerships

The climax of the idEAte hackathon was undoubtedly the moment when the winners were announced. Teams showcased a myriad of ingenious solutions, but a few stood out for their brilliance and applicability. Noteworthy projects included:

In first place, an AI assistant rigorously trained in internal documentation and designed to answer questions in real-time, thereby streamlining internal processes. Submitted by Fahd Shah (Account Manager), Nicole Newhouse (Director, Financial Data), Lefty Papachristoforou (Vice President, Product Management) and Brian Rideout (Senior Database Architect).

Four people smiling and giving a presentation


Second place went to a client-centric survey tool that directs users to the most relevant information from our website based on their unique interests and needs. Submitted by Garrett Mangulins (Research Associate), Doruk Akal (Insights Analyst), Mark O’Reily (Senior Research Associate) and Luke Sianchuk (Research Associate).

Four people smiling in a room with laptops on a desk


In third, was an enhanced target group builder that offers our teams the ability to continually improve the target groups they develop over time. Submitted by Pris Rajendram (Director of Support), Maju Sadagopan (Technical Lead), Heather Yeomans (Support Specialist) and Trevor Martin (Insights Analyst).

Four people sitting at a desk and working on their laptops


Although these projects took the top honours, it's important to mention that other entries were equally innovative in their own right. From enhancements to existing data products, to improvements in internal feedback tools and enriched knowledge bases, the breadth of ideas was genuinely inspiring. We’re truly grateful for everyone’s participation and hope we can do this all together again and raise the stakes with even more entries!

In the end, while individual teams garnered accolades, the real winner was EA as a whole. The hackathon generated a treasure trove of feasible, actionable ideas that promise to take both the company and its offerings to the next level.The idEAte hackathon was far more than a two-day whirlwind of coding and brainstorming; it emerged as a linchpin for the organization's innovation strategy. The event fostered cross-functional collaboration and generated 12 compelling business ideas, and it also served as a springboard for groundbreaking projects that promise to elevate EA to unprecedented heights. From AI assistants to client-centric survey tools, the seeds of innovation planted during the hackathon are primed to yield rich dividends.

Particularly in the era of a hybrid workforce, where connection and collaboration can be challenges, idEAte stood as a shining example of how collective ingenuity can overcome barriers and align everyone toward common objectives.


Acknowledging key contributors

A project of this magnitude doesn't happen in a vacuum. The hackathon was made possible through the concerted efforts of multiple departments and individuals. Hats off to the IT and Marketing departments for logistical support and to Susan Oliver (Senior Vice President of Human Resources), and Lena Gallo (Office Manager & HR Administrator) for their instrumental roles in coordination. A special nod to mentors David Phillips (Chief Product Officer), Wayne AuYeung (Director of Metadata) and Karen Brown (Senior Training Specialist), who graciously lent their expertise to the event.


The original idEAtors

The genesis of idEAte wasn't the result of a single brainstorming session but rather the amalgamation of different visions that converged into a cohesive plan. Thomas Lillo (Software Developer) and I (Vice President of Software Product Management) initiated the idea and received early buy-ins from Susan Oliver (Senior Vice President of Human Resources) and Jan Kestle (our fearless leader and President). Egor Ilin (Vice President of Software Development) stepped in later to rekindle the momentum, and help coordinate with senior leadership. Natasha Kasunic (Product Manager) and Caitlin Chua (Product Manager) independently came up with the idea for an internal hackathon and we were lucky enough to join forces. The dynamic duo brought a new level of enthusiasm, energy, and ideas to the planning table. It's also worth noting that both Natasha and Thomas have previous experience organizing hackathons prior to joining us at EA, which certainly didn’t hurt our cause. It's thanks to this collective effort that idEAte went from the conceptual phase to a tangible, company-wide event.


The judges

The hackathon wouldn't be complete without an esteemed panel of judges. Heartfelt thanks go to Teresa Sinopoli (Senior Vice President of Product Management and Platform Innovation), Rupen Seoni (Chief Revenue Officer), Andrew Schuster (Chief Technology Officer) and Jan Kestle (President), who took time from their busy schedules to evaluate the ideas and provide valuable feedback to all participants. They all provided a unique perspective in evaluating our participants that made sure all aspects of the submissions were evaluated.

A crowd of people watching a presentation being given by a small group


Participant Reflections: A Testament to Collaboration and Growth

To cap off our overview of the idEAte hackathon, it seems fitting to share the words of a participant who encapsulated the essence and benefits of the event:

"This was a super well thought out process...The key business benefit was teamwork—our diverse team was very valuable for contributing different viewpoints from across the company...While we were competing, everyone was supportive and kind. Another business benefit, and it goes without saying, were the amazing projects and tools created...Another great benefit was upskilling; I learned some new techniques and now know how to progress my learning. Thank you for the opportunity, and I look forward to next year!"

This comment not only underscores the multi-faceted business benefits, from team cohesion to product awareness, but also echoes the sentiments of camaraderie and professional growth that pervaded the event. It was this spirit of collaborative ingenuity that made idEAte a true success story for us all at Environics Analytics.


Reflecting on idEAte

As we reflect on the success of idEAte, we’re excited about the future, where the energy and creativity from the hackathon will drive new innovative projects and improvements for the lives of EA’s customers and employees. The momentum generated by the hackathon will be harnessed to develop and implement some of the most promising ideas.Here's to the start of an exciting journey of innovation and collaboration at Environics Analytics and to the next idEAte hackathon that so many of us are looking forward to!

Many thanks to Jan Kestle (President), Jenn Nucum-Trinidad (Digital Marketing Manager), Grant McGuire (Brand Marketing Manager), Caitlin Chua (Product Manager), Natasha Kasunic (Product Manager) for their help in putting together this, my first EA blog piece!



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