Wow! That sums it up in one word. It was exciting, incredible, and exhausting. I was looking for a “challenge”. I found the challenge plus so much more. The people were amazing. The food was good. The hours were long. The end product was worth it.
I’m a SAP customer. I was lucky enough to be selected for the developers challenge. Wasn’t I?
They started us out easy. They are very deceptive that way. The first day we watched two different and very good presentations. You can read about the presentationsSAP Developer Challenge Kick-Off and SAP Developer Challenge Theme One: Social Computing.
We met with our teams the first time. We discussed our name, and what we would like to develop. Who would have ever thought it would take a while to decide on a name? We decided since we where originally team six, and had six people in our team that we would be called “Six in the city”. The naming took some extra time, because we were constantly switching gears and talking about what we wanted to develop.
We went to the computer museum and had a nice dinner. This was to be our last “free day”. I believe we got finished early at around 8:00 or 9:00 PM.
Some more very good presentations were given. Mobile computing and SAP Developer Challenge Theme Two: Sustainability/Green IT were the topics. Again details on the presentations can be found here.
Our teams had to present before a board on our idea. That would have been nice. But first we had to agree on an idea.
We spent many hours going back and fourth on what we should create. . We finally decided on using voice recognition for mobile phone to call in a request for a report. We were going to use Java, and Business Objects to make it all work. Or at least that was what we were going to do.
We presented before the board later that day. It was very interesting. We found out they required a business reason for our product. Go figure! We also found out that we were being too technical in our approach.
So it was back to our den. Also known as the room we had been assigned for the duration. We were throwing out and rejecting ideas left and right. We gave up on compromise and our group split up. Some of us doing coding for a carbon design. Some of us sticking with the original idea of voice to reporting. Probably not one of our better ideas.
Around Midnight we got some help. We mapped out each of our ideas on the board, and a third party talked through each of them with us. Success! We decided to integrate the voice recognition with plant maintenance. The idea was that when a problem was found a person on the line could pick up the phone and call it in. The system would determine the location, severity, and who called based upon the phone call. I’m sorry to say I still can’t tell you exactly how we parsed out the information from the call. It was based upon fuzzy logic. We used a third party tool to generate the voice text into an e-mail account. Once the problem was determined it would be displayed on the blackberry and iphones. The first technician to accept the work order would own the work order. After 1 hour if no one accepted a blackberry message would display on the managers blackberry. The technicians would be able to display their work for the day, along with a list of work orders.
Day three and four:
The days became a blur. I know we met at 7:30 AM and coded until around 1:00 am the next morning. Saturday and Sunday – Monday morning.
Our application was working by Monday morning. We all got goofy and learned a lot about each other. It was a bonding experience. I found out just how good all of my team members were at coding. We laughed a lot. And it was fun.
Amazingly by Sunday we were not secretive about our idea, and we were receiving and giving help to other teams. Again the talent here was amazing.
The scope of our project shrunk. The voice recognition would stay the same. We were going to send messages to the technicians to accept and confirm the work orders.
We all were drinking plenty of caffeine and Red Bull to stay awake.
There was a camera team running around to take pictures of the teams, and video. Now I know what the reality TV people feel like. Eventually we ignored them. But it took some getting used to.
SAP Developer Challange Demo Jam 2008 Webcast. Time to get ready for how and what we were presenting. We got there at 7:30 to get ready. By the time our time slot for our practice run on the presentation stage came along we were ready.
Our presentation went fine. There were not any problems. We made our time. The problem was our presentation was boring with a lot of power point slides. So we decided to change it.
That was a good decision. However we were changing it just prior to all the teams presenting. We did not practice it. Not once. I don’t think I’ve ever done that. Presented without practicing.
As you can imagine our presentation left out a lot of our actual content. My suggestion to everyone and anyone who asks is not to change your presentation without at least one dry run.
Most of the presentations went without any hitches. And then everyone sat nervously while waiting, and waiting for the judge’s decision. As you have probably guessed or read prior to this, we did not win.
We didn’t win? I know I walked away a winner. I learned many new things. Met wonderful and talented people. I had a good time. And most importantly I walked away with an application that I may be able to use pieces from it for my company.
Would I do it again? Probably. I’m still recovering. I slept all day the first day I got home. Now I know what to expect, and to quote a team mate it was, “Crazy”.