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Tata Collaboration Hackathon Event: Hackers, WebRTC, and Collaboration Galore

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Tata Collaboration Hackathon Event: Hackers, WebRTC, and Collaboration Galore
    

By: -
5 Aug 2013
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Tata Communications held its inaugural "Future of Collaboration" Hackathon on July 13, and I was privileged to participate as a judge.  The event was co-located in Redwood City, CA and Bangalore, India, and attracted approximately 200 developers, designers, and collaboration geeks.  In total, the hackers generated over 40 great solutions during the 1.5 day development window.  For more detail on the event, including descriptions of the winning and most notable entries, please click here to see our Hackathon coverage in the Wainhouse Research Bulletin.

In general, I found myself in a perpetual state of amazement during this Hackathon, and I have a massive amount of respect for these young hackers who generated many creative and unique solutions in a very small development window.  Although it was not a requirement, nearly every solution utilized WebRTC in some form or another.  As a result, most of the solutions delivered a full audio- and video-enabled collaboration experience, many including multipoint conferencing.  Video quality was consistently excellent despite being delivered on mobile devices and laptops connected via wireless networks.

It was shocking how easily these teams added real-time audio and video collaboration to their solutions.  My favorite quote of the event was from a team that created Reader, an audio- and video-enabled eBook mashup: "This weekend we made Reader.  We are high school students ourselves."  High school students?  Creating A/V enabled collaboration solutions?!  In 1.5 days?!?  Perhaps I'm just getting old, but I've worked with development teams that took YEARS (literally – and recently) to add audio and video to existing collaboration solutions! 

Ok, now, before you throw tomatoes, I understand that we're talking apples and pineapples – the solutions delivered at this Hackathon all have a long way to go before they are what we consider "enterprise ready".  That said, ask yourself: How many consumer applications are now commonplace in the enterprise these days?  Do you think IT still acts as the gatekeeper for every application that its users leverage for business communications?  Do you think that’s air you’re breathing now?  I submit that there is a growing window of acceptance inside the enterprise for these types of solutions.  Remember: those kids comfortable with their eReader mashup have a tendency to bring these applications with them into the workplace.