When I was ten years old

I remember thinking how cool it would be

When we were goin' on an eight hour drive

If I could just watch TV

And I'd-a given anything

To have my own Pac-Man game at home

I used to have to get a ride down to the arcade

And now I've got it on my phone

Hey, glory, glory, hallelujah

Welcome to the future. (Brad Paisely)

There were two different approaches by businesses when the world went into lockdown in 2020. Many responded with the tooling they needed to work remotely, typically relying on IT departments to access the necessary software. Then there were those businesses who were steps ahead, with a strategic view of workplace technology tooling, how to use and leverage it, ways of working that optimised it, and to operate beyond simply replicating the face-to-face world. Well, perhaps there were three business approaches if you include those that were entirely unprepared.

We are now nearly 18 months into this operating environment, and many businesses remain in one of those (3) modes. I know in which mode I want to operate.

It’s the business mode that takes advantage of the future, not tries to simply catch up with it. Which takes me to innovation.

The Hackathon

At Iress, this time last year, we readied for our seventh annual Global Hackathon, planning for it to be virtual.

The Hackathon is a highly anticipated, special event that generates excitement and a healthy dose of competition. It aims to generate creative solutions that solve real problems for clients, or for our people, over 24 hours (that stretches timezones from Australia to Canada) with many ideas from previous years now live and making a difference.

Everyone at Iress is encouraged to take part either by submitting an idea or by joining a team. The event is not only for engineers and software people. Though the challenge is tough, Hackathon is not just a test of creativity but a test of teamwork and endurance.

Not all ideas are cracked in the strict 24-hour time limit. But we applaud them all. And we can't wait to see the results of the judging, which will carefully consider the merits of each idea and delivery against our regional and global judging criteria.

And so here we are readying for our eighth annual Hackathon, the second all-virtual event. More ideas have already been generated than in previous years, and more teams assembling for the Hackathon at the end of this week.

The hackathon is not just a test of creativity, but a test of teamwork and endurance.

Andrew Walsh
CEO, Iress

The token

In previous Iress Hackathons, t-shirts and bandanas have been distributed as hacker swag and memorabilia. We have also presented a physical (heavy) trophy for the Global Champion. I know it is heavy as I had the honour of moving it between countries on my travels.

The physical distribution side of swag and notably the trophy now isn’t possible. And the increasingly global collaboration of Hackathon teams got our people thinking - what could we do differently this year to make participation in the 2021 Global Hackathon extra special?

When considering this, our people have thought about not simply reproducing the analogue; but strategically leveraging the digital. How to innovate and move beyond what feel like physical constraints in virtual ways of working? As an innovative software company, what is the potential for blockchain technology, not just in financial services, but in ultimate Hackathon kudos?

The organising team of the Iress Hackathon decided to partner with high profile Australian artist Ayjay to create two categories of Limited Edition Non Fungible Tokens (NFT). These tokens will form part of the Iress Collection - Hackathon 2021 Participation NFT and the Global Champion NFT. The first is made available to all participants of the 2021 Global Hackathon, and the other awarded to the global winning team! These will live on for many years to come on the public blockchain, the first of many digital artworks within the Iress Collection.

As an innovative software company, what is the potential for blockchain technology, not just in financial services, but in ultimate hackathon kudos?

Andrew Walsh
CEO, Iress

Once the final set of Hackathon 2021 participants get underway this Thursday, the Hackathon 2021 Participation NFT will be minted. Likewise, the Global Champion NFT will be minted in a few weeks after the winning team is declared.

This is a tremendous example of embracing the world we are now in, using technology, not simply existing in it. Moving beyond what is constraining as the world changes, and a strategic position that innovates to create new and adapt.

Happy hacking the future!