Hackathon Uckermark 2020

The annual Implisense team event took place in August 2020. After the successful hackathons held on Mallorca (2017), Marrakech (2018) and most recently in the Algarve (2019), this year’s event brought the team straight from the home office throughout Germany to an area that is particularly adventurous for many big-city residents: the Uckermark.

Uckermark Hackathon 2020

It takes about 1.5 hours by train to get from the Implisense office to the Uckermark. In the salvey mill, the 12 Implisense employees set up their camp with laptops, sufficient network technology and a mobile pizza oven.

A hackathon at Implisense is a multi-day event in which employees work on self-defined software ideas and try to present one of the coolest possible demonstrators at the end of the week.

Uckermark Hackathon 2020

Technical developments were implemented in various small groups in the marketing, front-end, back-end and data analysis divisions. Exemplary developments were: Dashboards for the analysis of features and KPI improvements in marketing, block chain-based micropayments, sentiment classification of news, particularly fast clustering approaches in C++ for the calculation of peer groups, load balancers, design systems, map-based company searches as well as functional programming.

At the same time, the work was accompanied by organized insights into nature near the salvey mill. Among other activities, a guided canoe tour went to the nearby nature reserve on the Oder/Neisse river.

Uckermark Hackathon 2020

As always at all Hackathons, the discussion and programming was structured by pre-, intermediate, main and additional meals, crowned by a 5-course final of 5 cooking teams.

Conclusion

The Uckermark was the destination of this year’s Implisense Hackathon. The region can be reached comfortably and cheaply from Berlin in a good 1.5 hours by train. The landscape and low density of distractions provided an ideal environment for exciting developments. Among the most important topics of this year’s Hackathons were clustering, load balancing, micropayments, sentiment classification, blockchains, functional programming and visualization or design.

Uckermark Hackathon

Photo credits: Fotos von A. Grahl and A. Schäfer

Marrakech Hackathon

In April 2018 another Implisense Hackathon took place. After the successful Hackathon 2017 in Mallorca, this year we went to the African continent, more precisely: to the city of Marrakech.

View from the roof terrace to the snow-covered peaks of the Atlas Mountains
View from the roof terrace of the Implisense-Riad to the snow-covered peaks of the Atlas Mountains

Marrakech is described as the “Pearl of the South” due to its many palaces; by the city guide rather as a city of film stars and pickpockets. We think “hackers” is missing in the city description!

It took us about five hours travelling with Ryanair from Berlin to Marrakech. In a traditional Moroccan house in the old town, around 10 dev oriented Implisense employees set up camp with laptops, network technology and many ideas in their luggage. As a welcome we enjoyed Moroccan whiskey – the typical peppermint tea of Morocco.

A Hackathon at Implisense is an event lasting several days in which the participants work creatively on self-defined ideas and try to achieve an executable result by programming. An important side effect is the joint transfer of knowledge.

Photographs during the hackathon in the riad
Photographs during the hackathon in the riad

Technical developments in the Marketing, Frontend, Backend and Data Analysis divisions were implemented in six small groups. Exemplary developments are: Real-time dashboards for marketing performance indicators, clustering approaches for large customer bases, automation of provisioning, scaling and management of container applications, distributed communication architectures using Apache Flink, Kubernetes/Kontena/Apache Pulsar as an example, and visualization libraries for time-based and hierarchically organized databases.

After getting used to the continental and in April quite cool climate of Marrakech, the regular calls of the Muezzins, views of snow-covered mountain peaks of the Atlas mountains and the oriental flair of the old town, we went to clear our heads in the desert. In the Scarabeo-Camp, about 45 minutes away from Marrakech, we enjoyed the wide landscape of the stone desert.

Excursion to the Agafay Desert near Marrakech
Excursion to the Agafay Desert near Marrakech

The discussion and programming in Marrakech was structured in a pleasant way with premeals, snacks, main meals and additional meals. Evening highlights were presentations of the results achieved. Sometimes surprising, sometimes funny, sometimes abstract and sometimes impossible to grasp.

Another highlight was the topic of clustering large customer lists. In three groups, each with different algorithmic approaches but identical data sets, an attempt was made to generate clustering that divides several thousand sample customers into as homogeneous subgroups as possible. Bonus points were awarded for a comprehensible visualization of the calculated clusters. On a wow-scale, the most complex method scored points, which was able to divide word vector models into meaningful homogeneous clusters. This is a useful approach for smarter segmentation in the marketing of existing customers, for example.

Evening view from the roof to the Koutoubia Mosque
Evening view from the roof to the Koutoubia Mosque

Conclusion

Marrakech was the location of this year’s Hackathon of Implisense. The city can be reached from Berlin within five hours in just acceptable time. The oriental flair and the comfortable accommodation offered an ideal environment for exciting developments. Among the most important topics of this year’s Hackathon were questions of containerization, distributed data flows as well as clustering and the visualization of large data.

Questions about the format or the results? E-Mail us at hello@implisense.com. Join the team an attend future hackathons? Find vacancies here. 

Picture credits: Photos by A. Schäfer 2018

Review Mallorca Hackathon 2017

In May 2017 our first Implisense Hackathon took place. Where? On the sunny island of Mallorca. We booked a finca owned by nice people from London and spent a week working on creative coding. Beside  cooking together, hands-on-traninig in Go, fitness training, we worked on four challenges:

  • Automated predictions
  • Proximity Geo-Analysis
  • Chatbots for complex searches
  • Image annotation for Facial Keypoints

In the middle of the night

Automated predictions

Time series data plays a major role in the Big Data phenomenon. At the same time, the tools have become better in dealing with massive time series. We were curious to know if new open source tools could be used to predict future management changes at scale. This idea came from discussions with some customers who were able to place their infrastructure projects whenever a change of key management personnel took place six months ago. How well can time series data from management changes be used for sales related predictions? We found out it was possible to predict the month, week and volume of expected management changes for selected industries with justifiable estimation errors. The team discussed then how to combine these predictions with recent developments for a given company to deliver account specific pre alerts.
The team also tested whether the approach is suitable for predicting newly available content from websites. This would allow us to optimize the utilization of our IT and achieve a higher degree of up-to-dateness on the customer side. Team Operations integrates these developments into the production system for 2018. Open jobs here.

Proximity Geo-Analysis

Many product buyings have a sublime spatial reference. But for many vendors complex geo-data analysis would not be feasible. Freight forwarders e.g. usually settle near motorway exits, ports or airports. Management consultants are usually located in the city centre or near airports or high-speed train stations. If geographic proximity to specific points of interest (POIs) plays a role in the implementation of business models, how can we integrate these characteristics into our customer recommendations? A team has developed a component to calculate the routing distances per company location to selected points of interest from open street maps, such as the proximity to the nearest motorway access road or the distance to the nearest industrial park. Exemplary analyses have shown which unexpected challenges arise during the integration of OSM data and which geo-data should rather be obtained by commercial providers in order to achieve a higher reliability in the significance. The newly developed geodata is included as additional data points in our Company Index. The responsible colleagues in the Data Analytics team are looking for additional employees for further geodata analyses.

Chatbots für complex searches

Chatbots promise – after the fulminant awake of Siri, Alexa and Co – natural interactions beyond the classical interfaces in the business area also for professional users. We asked ourselves which complex searches could be realized more efficiently via chatbots. Could we develop our own chat bots based on our API? Could they be integrated into popular Messenger systems such as Whatsapp, Telegram or Slack? This challenge was taken up by two teams and until the end of the week a first chatbot was developed to allow company selections using faceted full-text searches. These developments are being incorporated into a new service that will be tested in 2018 with pilot customers from the Enterprise segment.

Image Annotation for Facial Keypoints

An interesting side issue was dealt with by a team in the field of visual analytics. Our open source tool Dalphi was developed to generate training data for machine learning processes. So far, we have used it primarily for analyzing mass text data. From the feedback from other startups we have learned that the generation of training examples is also time-consuming for the automated analysis of mass image data. The team has decided to develop an appropriate annotation interface for the hackathon and to use it for the recognition of features in faces (facial keypoints). As a backend service, a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) consisting of annotated images should be trained in order to obtain a model for keypointer recognition. At the end of the hackathon, models were trained to recognize certain people in photos. We will discuss these new analytical skills with our key accounts to find the best practical use case for them. Useful. We were able to sort all photos of the Mallorca Hackathon according to the recognizable persons without having to ask Google or Apple.

The next day we went to Playa de Formentor to enjoy the natural beauty of Mallorca

Summary

We worked on four challenging ideas in five days. We examined their technical feasibility. Mallorca is an ideal place for that, especially in early May. The island is very easy to reach from Germany. There are inexpensive properties with low season rates and the places and beaches are not very crowded.

We organize more hackathons:  The next one is already planned in the desert of North Africa. Join the team? Job offers can be found here: https://implisense.com/en/jobs/

Team event – “Implisense Hackathon” in Prague in December

Just over a week after we received the top results in the Gründerszene growth ranking 2017/2018, the Implisense team was looking forward to the next event:

Medieval Prague was the place for our second “Implisense Hackathon” from December 11th to 13th.
Prague is only four hours by train from our Berlin office. We enjoyed the best that Europe has to offer for travellers:
Short journey, exciting culture and good food. For the first overview we drove with electric scooters to the castle (Pražský hrad) and practiced riding with Segways – failures included.
Afterwards we worked on topics like Dockerization, Gitlab, Kotlin, Graphs and the programming of the coffee machine in the accommodation.

The next hackathon is already planned. We’re about to go into the desert.

>> If you are interested in participating in the next event, look at our vacancies and apply here. We are looking forward to additional support – in the office and on the road.