Most hackathon partisans report less dramatic results, of course. West Monroe Partners' Rosanova says that the most important impact of hackathons on his organization is that the technical staff is able to play with new technology before the marketing department requests it.
"We have seen for ourselves what works and what does not work," he explains. "The best thing to come out of it is creativity. Even if the results [at the hackathon] were not perfect, they are thinking outside the box, and when they go back to the client on Monday they are still thinking creatively," he notes.
"It helps the organization because the engagement level goes up, and when people are more engaged they are more productive," adds Rackspace's Wani. "We have seen solutions, new technologies and proofs of concept introduced at hackathons."
"It's a way for us to return to our roots," says Belanger at Dropbox. "The goal is to keep that startup feeling alive, to recapture that driving feeling of urgency, to remind ourselves to be bold and to take risks. Going back to that fast-paced approach to building, that is the spiritual goal."
Not that any justification is needed. "It's not an official policy to hold the hackathons -- it's a cultural thing. It's what the staff wants to do," says Wani.
Lamont Wood is a freelance writer in San Antonio.
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This story, "Hackathons for the rest of us" was originally published by Computerworld.