At Sisense, we are builders. Create This is your firsthand look at what that means to us. Read on for Hackathon stories, new product developments, moonshot ideas, and more.

We’re always working on something new at Sisense. Innovating and experimenting with new ideas are core parts of our DNA; our R&D and AI teams never stop building the future of data. With all that creativity in the air, it’s no wonder that our annual Hackathon takes the energy to a new level. This year, the entire effort was built from the ground up, allowing the organizers to better manage the event and encourage more participation. 

“The Hackathon is a very human celebration,” said Lio Fleishman, one of the organizers and a Solutions Engineer in our Partnerships and Alliances team. “We rejoice in what makes us human and what keeps pushing us forward: problem solving, imagination, and curiosity.”

The response company-wide was amazing! A grand total of 39 teams, from 6 of our offices, across 4 countries formed, collaborating on a wide array of projects. A whopping 80% of teams took advantage of the industry-leading power of Amazon Web Services (AWS)! If you read our Hackathon announcement, you know that AWS’s partnership wasn’t just cosmetic. We even had visitors from AWS pop in at our Tel Aviv, New York, and San Francisco offices to offer support (and tasty treats) as the festivities got underway.

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Amazonians on site!

Amazon and Sisense have very similar DNA, from our customer obsession and ceaseless self-improvement to our abilities to work hard and have fun at the same time. Nothing could exemplify our partnership better than a Hackathon. Here’s what our AWS visitors had to say, in their own words.

Bala and Gary from San Francisco

San Francisco Hackathon photos courtesy Chris Meier

“[It was a] great experience supporting the Sisense Hackathon. Loved the customer sentiment analysis using the data from Support teams with AWS Comprehend to understand in real-time what your customers are saying,” said Bala Keelapudi, Startup Partner Solutions Architect. “It was great to see the developers explaining the ease of getting up and running with AWS Comprehend.”

“So impressive to see the level of customer-centric innovation possible in 24 hours or (much) less, using AWS! And, using the latest AWS managed services, such as Comprehend, Lambda, API Gateway, RedShift…”

Gary Stafford, AWS Emerging Partner Solutions Architect

Jon from New York City

New York City photos courtesy Ashley Potter; Arizona photos courtesy Carmen DeCouto, Vishal Iyer

“Within my first few minutes on-site we were already troubleshooting SSH connectivity from Sisense office to an ec2 instance in us-east-1. It was really educational to work directly with the team to walk them through the network configuration and to check and verify that everything was in place for connectivity,” reported Jon Myer, Partner Solution Architect. “I really enjoyed my visit and seeing how everyone was working hard but having fun during the hackathon.”

Oren and Eran from Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv photos courtesy Moti Granovsky

“During our time in Sisense offices we witnessed several interesting initiatives that leverage AWS services and abilities,” said Oren Reuveni, a Solutions Architect at AWS SaaS Factory. “Data ingestion and analytics mechanism using Kinesis-analytics and Athena, an end-to-end serverless architecture that enables users to consume insights about their social network profile data and more.”

“I was deeply impressed seeing the culture of innovation and collaboration at Sisense Hackathon. Looking at the team translating the user interface using Amazon Translate shows truly customer-centric thinking.”

Eran Sidi, AWS Account Manager

It’s always fun to have friends pop in for a visit, but let’s get down to the serious business of talking about the ground-breaking projects our enterprising teams put together. The overall winner was the Magnificent Unicorn team with live-streaming analytics. The Kyiv office winners called themselves Wasted Potential and used machine learning and an open camera to figure out when the cafeteria lines were shortest. And, maybe most vitally, Big BIC Energy used a Raspberry Pi computer to handle the critical task of tracking how much beer is in the NYC office keg. 

Kyiv photos courtesy Anna Pokhylko

Read on to explore these amazing ideas. (Other than the world winner, they’re in no particular order!)

World winners, Magnificent Unicorn: Make faster, smarter decisions

The Sisense platform handles data of every kind, from every conceivable source, even allowing you to mashup live and cached data. The Magnificent Unicorn team took this to the next level with their streaming analytics project. For users with rapidly-changing datasets who need to see changes to their data as they happen, this is life-altering. Real-time BI is possible! And of course, AWS is a key to that possibility: pulling data into a Kinesis Stream Producer, then into Kinesis itself, a Lambda function, and finally through Socket.io into Sisense. The power of AWS undergirding Sisense is a proven winner and could change the way users understand and interact with their fast-moving data streams. No wonder they took world prize!

Wasted Potential: No more lunch lines

No matter where you are, this group created an application that removes long lunch lines. Our Kyiv winners know this, so rather than keep suffering in silence whenever they go down to the cafeteria for food, they made tech work for them. Using the publicly-available camera in the lunchroom, some AWS horsepower, and a little Machine Learning (ML) they came up with an effortless solution that lets them know exactly when it’s the best time to grab a bite. 

By teaching a computer to visually recognize where the line forms and when there are humans on it, their algorithm is able to understand approximately how long the wait might be and advise users whether they should wait, or hurry up and eat. Users access the functionality via Slack (who doesn’t love Slack?). Then the information from the camera is pulled into an AWS visual recognition neural network (who doesn’t love neural networks?) and an answer is produced. Every request (and the associated queue time) is stored in Sisense, so that users can look at historical data and patterns.

All this was made possible by Amazon EC2, Amazon Lambda, Amazon Rekognition, and the Amazon API Gateway (and Sisense, of course).

Big BIC Energy: Beer barometer

It’s no secret that after a hectic week, a lot of us here at Sisense in NYC love to unwind with a cold beer (or nonalcoholic drink), so the keg holds a treasured place in many of our hearts. Oh the wails of consternation when someone pulls that lever and receives only a gout of foam and sadness! Those days are gone now, thanks to the BBE team “Beer Mate” project (with some help from AWS and a Raspberry Pi). 

By attaching a flowmeter to the beer keg, using some handy Python code, and piping the data into a MySQL database on AWS, they’ve enabled the Sisense platform to achieve its most significant use case yet: letting everyone know how much beer is left! The system also informs our intrepid office manager, Sabrina, through Sisense Pulse Alerts when it gets low so that she can order more. Sisensers can also use Beer Mate’s integration with 

Untappd to rate the beer and leave their thoughts. This is a great demonstration of just how outside-the-box Hackathon thinking can be, and how fun and useful the results often are! 

What will you build?

We hope this brief glimpse into the Sisense 2020 Hackathon has given you a few ideas on setting up and running your own hackathon. There’s a reason why tech companies of all shapes and sizes have been holding these events for decades (and show no sign of stopping). New ideas from Hackathons end up in production all the time, including Sisense BloX to name one notable example. Whatever form your company’s hackathon takes, remember, the most important thing is to have fun, connect with your teammates, and build what matters to you!

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Jack Cieslak is a 10-year veteran of the tech world. He’s written for Amazon, CB Insights, and others, on topics ranging from ecommerce and VC investments to crazy product launches and top-secret startup projects.

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