Encouraging Innovation at SAP Concur Through Hackathons


On January 30, 12 finalist teams across different SAP Concur offices from the U.S. (Bellevue, Vienna, San Francisco, Atlanta, Dallas), Prague, Paris, the UK, Germany, and Bangalore gathered together for a showdown of their winning local hackathon demos in the SAP Concur Spike Global Hackathon. The 12 teams bested 100 others across the globe to make it to the final round.

A hackathon is a 24- to 48-hour brainstorming and coding event where an individual or team creates a demo of a concept or idea, usually called a "hack." The hacks are then presented in front of an audience and judges.


The lineup of judges influence how hacks are presented. Here we have judges from the product, technology, marketing, and business development teams.


The hacks from the finalist teams ranged from visualization tools that help predict trends on expense and travel using machine learning, to bot “assistants” that provide a faster way to facilitate expense flow processes. To date, hackathons inside SAP Concur have generated more than 200 hacks. Some of these have already made their way into our internal toolchain and contributed to products that our customers use.


Team Constructors won the Spike Global Hackathon with their event-based approach to batch jobs, resulting in 50% less instance utilization, which can be implemented on a variety of batch job types.


As much as a technical endeavor for participants, it is also a chance to mingle with peers from different departments. We found that the most successful hacks came from teams with the most diverse lineup — developer, UX designer, marketing, business development, etc. 


Hackathons are opportunities for peers from different disciplines to team up and build something in a short period of time.



Exploration and experimentation are also key ingredients to successful hackathons. For us, they help push the boundaries of what "travel and expense" could be mean for the business traveler. We’ve seen hacks on AR/VR, blockchain, virtual assistants, and a host of other tech that help kickstart dialogue on technically-feasible to market-ready prototypes.


Lance Hughes from Concur Labs demos a Concur Locate VR prototype to a team in Prague.


It goes without saying that having fun is important! In the local events leading up to the Global Hackathon finale, we’ve seen demos and presentations that drew unanimous applause and chuckle from the audience because of their quirky/funny nature. Some of these hacks included an SAP Concur side-scrolling zombie game, employee highlight via an AMA (ask-me-anything) Slack bot, and an SAP Concur-ready beer vending machine.


SAP Concur CTO Mark Nelson, Chief Product Officer Tim MacDonald, and Chief Marketing Officer Christy Marble, gett a kick out of one of the presenters in the Bellevue Spend hackathon.


All in all, we are proud to have leaders in the company that support out-of-the-box thinking and understand the value of hackathons as a source of innovation and fun.


Spike Global Hackathon judges from left: Chief Product Officer Tim MacDonald, SAP Concur President Mike Eberhard, VP of Concur Labs John Dietz, CTO of Global TechMark Nelson, and Ben Brewer of global SMB


'Til the next Spike Global Hackathon!

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