On May 16, while hundreds of cloud software firm NetSuite Inc.’s employees, partners, analysts, and members of the media were preparing for the 2016 SuiteWorld conference in San Jose, more than 60 programmers among them were divided into teams and spent 12 hours serving as unofficial consultants for two non-profit organizations at the conference’s third annual Hackathon 4Good.
Their mission: solve the organizational challenges presented by two pre-selected non-profit organizations, youth support organization Juma Ventures and social enterprise network Ashoka, each of which received free NetSuite subscriptions in addition to expert guidance in how to use it – and both organizations were pleasantly surprised by the results, Erin Dieterich, the director of corporate citizenship for NetSuite’s non-profit arm, NetSuite.org, told ITBusiness.ca.
“They had no idea it was going to be so impactful,” she said. “Because essentially what they got was 12 hours of incredibly intelligent developers spending all their brainpower thinking about their business challenges and talking them through use cases.”
Juma, which helps underprivileged youth find jobs and enroll in postsecondary education, was seeking help for a program in which it secures concession staff positions for close to 1000 of its young members at Bay Area stadiums.
“Their challenge was that they have hundreds and hundreds of students… and every game and concert has a different tenor of what people are going to buy,” Dieterich explained. “If it’s really hot at a baseball game you’re going to sell a lot of ice cream, if it’s really cold you’re going to sell a lot of coffee.”
For Juma, the teams were challenged to develop analytics that could predict where the organization could send its kids and when, while identifying what to sell in order to maximize revenue for their postsecondary education program.
The winning Juma team, the Original Timesheets, used NetSuite’s project record and resource allocation features to ensure that participating stadiums could employ as many youth as possible, while leveraging historical data to forecast concession sales.
The second organization, Ashoka, essentially acts as a venture capital firm for social enterprises while also serving as the largest network of social entrepreneurs in the world: it currently represents 3000 entrepreneurs in 70 countries, including Canada.
“They have all of these amazing people with these game-changing ideas working out in the developing world, but they have a real accounting problem,” Dieterich said. “They give each of these guys a fundraising challenge, but they also provide funding, and they’re trying to visualize everything happening in all of their different regions… and make sure their social entrepreneurs understand all of the accounting pieces as well.”
The Ashoka teams were challenged to create a more efficient workflow and design a NetSuite dashboard that would let organizations know whether they were exceeding or falling short of their fundraising goals.
Winning team Goodfellows created a prototype that used SuiteScripts, Saved Searches and portlets, allowing Ashoka’s program managers across to manage both local activities and their budgets.
The winning solutions were judged by a panel of experts including NetSuite founder and CTO Evan Goldberg, who brought them onstage during his May 17 keynote, NetSuite.org senior director David Geilhufe, and representatives from both Juma and Ashoka.
Oddly enough, neither team included any NetSuite employees.
“Both teams were 100 per cent comprised of customers and partners,” Dieterich said. “It was really exciting to see some of our partners who know each other in the sector have the chance to work together.”