Innovation Into Reality

In the fast-paced world of technology, moving quickly with new ideas is a key. But how do we do this? Everyone has had a great idea at one point, but execution doesn’t always follow. Perhaps you thought of something interesting but don’t have the background to develop it or you just need more brainstorming power. How does an opportunity to develop your ideas into reality happen? Easy. Come to Cisco, where innovation starts on the inside.

On July 15th-16th such an opportunity was created by Cisco Collaboration Group in the form of a hackathon. This was the first Collab-wide hackathon hosted in San Jose. The event was sponsored by SVP Sri Srinivasan, Director Jan Foo, and VP Abhay Kulkarni; and driven by Ivy Pham. You needed no technical knowledge, no team, not even a single idea, as long as you came with passion to create. Over the span of two days, individuals and groups from all over the company got together and hammered away at a multitude of solutions focusing on integrating Cisco’s collaboration suite for a variety of use cases.

Hackathon Group in SJ-09 Vineyards
Part of the hackathon group in SJ-09 Vineyards

Solving Real-World Problems-One Hack at a Time

Participants had one and a half days to develop and test a working solution and half a day to present and go through the judging process. Solutions were judged on business value, innovation, demonstration and how realistic the solution was. Even though collaboration was the main focus, creativity knows no bounds and hackers from every technology came together and strutted their ideas. In addition to Cisco employees the event was attended by interns and even several high school groups which had the chance to participate as part of a Cisco shadowing program. Over 348 hackers formed 83 teams to present their ideas during this hackathon. Additionally, there were over 30 mentors and judges and 15 volunteers from the business units who helped groups with content, technical components and organization as a whole.

Dedication at its fullest
Dedication at its fullest, Collaboration organizers brought in devices to help some teams work on the products.
Upon asking some of the groups why they decided to participate in the hackathon, several people replied:
• They wanted to come to a place where they could share their ideas and make something real through collaboration with teammates and mentors
• This was their first hackathon, and they were excited to create a project for Cisco
• They came to promote solutions their own team had been working on that they felt could cross technologies and make an impact
Overall, this hackathon was an encouraging place to develop their wild ideas and have proactive guidance in making them real. No matter what their day job was.
Teams preparing for presentations
Teams preparing for presentations
While the ideas were all outstanding, the team names that groups picked for themselves were just as fantastic. Those that got some chuckles included:
  • “Apostles of Chuck,”
  • “It’s Not a Bug,It’s a Feature,” and
  • “Mjolnir.”

At the end of Day 2, the results were announced, and prizes awarded for the top solutions.

Announcement of Winners
Abhay Kulkarni and Ivy Pham announcing winners

Highlight Solutions

Social Toaster by Innovation Edge

Say “Um” and pay up. A Webex Meetings integration that analyzes any key words you predefine in real time (such as filler words). These words are accumulated and charged monetarily, with the money going to a charity of your choosing. The presenter can use this integration to improve their speaking abilities and also donate to a good cause!

Social Toaster

Secure Identity Login by U2F

Say goodbye to passwords forever. Working together, members from Cisco Webex and Duo presented a solution for multi-factor authentication for Webex Teams, using a laptop with a fingerprint scanner. Even the initial sign up uses a fingerprint and is lightning fast. Finally, you can throw out all the stickies with passwords on them.

Secure Identity

For more details and the leadership of Duo Labs visit: https://webauthn.io/


Webex Spotlight by Mavericks

Putting the spotlight on you. Through the use of deep learning and image processing technologies this group demonstrated how to remove the backgrounds in video meetings and recordings. Remove your children, dogs and unmade hotel beds easily and keep the focus on your messaging.

Webex Spotlight by Mavericks


Smart Diagnostics by Mjolnir

Problem meet resolution. By using K-means clustering, correlation matrix and PCA on various meeting features, this team created a way to suggest the root cause of customer issues in real-time without the need of human intervention. By providing a self-diagnostic solution for our customers it can reduce turn-around time to resolve outstanding meeting issues.

Smart Diagnostics

In just two short days, participants were able to create dozens of innovative integrations and bots. Some of these may be taken by the collaboration group and further developed to one day become a part of our collaboration solutions. This goes to show, no matter who you are at Cisco, you can make a difference and it will impact our future solutions.



Now imagine the possibilities with a hackathon that’s more than two days… Actually, you don’t have to. The next hackathon is coming up in September!

Cognitive Spaces