You might be forgiven if you thought a "hackathon" was an event where a bunch of hackers get together to plot the overthrow of the digital universe. In reality, it's a more innocuous event where developers and business people come together to focus on creating new types of applications.
The folks at Rally Software, a provider of application lifecycle management (ALM) software, hosted one of these this week at its annual RallyON conference, but you don't really need a vendor to create your own "hackathon." According to Todd Olson, vice president of products at Rally Software, Rally Software hosts these events as part of an effort to get people to focus on developing innovative applications.
Part of the problem that most companies have these days is that they are working so hard on managing the business that there is no time to think about how to improve the business. There's a wealth of application development technology out there, but the people who have the skills don't really know much about the business. They need to spend time with business people in order to understand how software could be applied to create some truly innovative pieces of software.
In an ideal world, companies would host their own annual retreats where developers and business people come together to just hack some code. Chances are that not only would some critical institutional knowledge be shared, some pretty compelling business applications might be created.
Great software just doesn't magically happen. People have to take the time to help create it as part of a collaborative exercise. But that can't happen if everybody is actually too busy running the business to actually think about how to make it better.