TADHack-mini Means Business

For those who don't participate in hackathons, dismissing them as a geeky way to spend a weekend and maybe win a few extra bucks is too easy. But as one winner's experience from TADHack-mini Orlando '17 shows, playing around with programmable communications can deliver real business value.

That winner, Utku Yavuz, is a collaboration services specialist working for Garanti Teknoloji, the group responsible for providing technology support to Garanti Bank in Istanbul, Turkey. In his role, he's focused on providing the bank's telephony infrastructure. Last year, Utku attended Enterprise Connect 2017 for a week of learning about communications and collaboration. "It was my first time at the event," he told me. "I kind of forced myself into it by telling my managers how much I wanted to go."

After catching wind of the TADHack-mini hackathon taking place the weekend preceding the event, Utku reached out to his company admins to get permission to extend his trip so he could take part. Utku was armed with experience, having participated in TADHack Global 2016, where a former colleague of his introduced him to TADHack organizer Alan Quayle.

Tune in to this No Jitter On Air podcast episode and get all the details you need for this year's TADHack-mini event from organizer Alan Quayle.

Let's Get Hacking

For TADHack-mini Orlando '17, Utku teamed up with another participant to develop a translator bot that used the Google Translation API and plugged into Cisco Spark. The bot allows each member of a Spark team collaboration room to have all chat messages translated into his or her language of choice. Utku and his partner won a $600 prize from TADHack-mini sponsor Cisco Spark.

The inspiration for the hack, he said, came from the types of interactions he encountered at his job, which recently underwent a big change when it was acquired by BBVA, a Spanish financial services group.

With the acquisition, Spanish-speaking and Turkish-speaking employees needed to communicate and collaborate with each other. In addition, Garanti has a branch in Romania, throwing a third language into the mix. "These three countries are not known for their English fluency, so everyone wound up speaking our own languages," said Utku in a presentation he delivered at TAD Summit 2017. When Turkish employees received messages in Spanish, they'd have to type them into Google Translate to convert to Turkish, then type out their responses and send those through Google Translate to convert into Spanish before copying and pasting them back into their messaging application. This process was inefficient and a compliance risk due to the possibility that employees could input personal and confidential information into an unmonitored cloud service, he said.

When returning to Turkey with his prize money and winning hack in hand, Utku immediately wanted to implement the translator bot in his company. However, Garanti didn't allow the use of Cisco Spark due to policies around cloud services. Instead, the company used Cisco Jabber for messaging. Utku made some backend adjustments, leveraging the "know-how" he acquired at TADHack-mini Orlando, and soon enough produced a translator bot that integrated into Cisco Jabber.

This way, Spanish messages are instantly translated into Turkish and vice versa, Utku said, adding that employees are warned to be careful of what they say since these messages are going through the cloud since the bot uses the Google Translation API. "Also, we can audit these messages so if some breach has happened, we can detect who is the source of the breach," he said.

Garanti hasn't fully deployed the translator bot yet because Utku and his team are still trying to solve the problem of connecting other communications tools with Jabber. As of now, the technology department uses the bot, with plans to expand its use to other divisions of the bank moving forward. And, Utku's team is already looking at other ways to leverage artificial intelligence with chatbots for the banking business.

Why Do a Hackathon?

Participating in a hackathon provides many benefits, Utku said. It gives you an opportunity to demonstrate to enterprise management what's achievable with programmable communications -- something you can take back to show as a proof of concept, he said. You also get the opportunity to meet with different vendors and gain experience with new technologies.

While Utku is giving one of his colleagues the chance to attend Enterprise Connect this year, he's planning on participating in the TADHack-mini Orlando remotely, he said. With VoIP Innovations, Avaya, and Telnyx joining returning sponsor Flowroute, Utku is sure to have more opportunities to explore new technologies and vendors.

"Great solutions come from simple solutions and great ideas," Utku told me. "Having [an application that is] very productive and efficient is good for your business. It's not a case of investing a lot of money." Being able to take a great idea and convert it into a business advantage is key, he concluded.

The TADHack-mini hackathon is back in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, March 10, and Sunday, March 11 -- the weekend before Enterprise Connect 2018. TADHack brings together a rich diversity of people across the EC audience and the Orlando community, anyone from students to IT managers, from computer programmers to marketing folks. TADHack participants will collaborate on software projects that focus on using programmable communications to solve problems that matter to them, and the winners will be showcased at Enterprise Connect in the Monday afternoon session, "Hackathon Spotlight: Programmable Communications is for Everyone." Get more information and register here!

And don't forget to register for Enterprise Connect, running March 12 - 15 at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Fla. The event features a full track on APIs & Embedded Communications, in addition to sessions across eight other topic tracks. If you haven't yet registered, register now using the code NOJITTER to save an additional $200 off the Early Bird Pricing or get a free Expo Plus pass.

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