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Making Customers a Trusted Development Partner

Consuelo Valdes

13 October 2021   •   3 minute read

In the foreground, four people sit around a table discussing hackathon ideas. In the background, there’s another group of four people sitting around a different table discussing hackathon ideas.

How do you take a good product and make it great? Involve your customers.

Since its inception, the Mark43 Hackathon has provided innovative ideas, enhancements, and upgrades to the Mark43 platform. This year, we decided to take our hackathon to the next level by involving our customers in the process.

We took the traditional hackathon methodology, giving employees company time and resources to work on an innovative project of their choosing, and invited representatives from customer agencies to join members of the Mark43 team in California and the Pacific Northwest for five days of innovation.

Why involve customers?

At Mark43, we strive to involve our customers and the communities they serve in everything we do. We exist to support and care for first responders, and the best way to do that is by partnering with our customers from ideation to development, implementation to sustainment, and everywhere in between.

That’s why involving customers was part of the natural evolution of the Mark43 Hackathon, and the outcomes were even better than we anticipated. When inviting customers to participate in the hackathon, we expected to receive:

  • First-hand, quality feedback from customer leadership and end-users of Mark43 applications
  • Suggestions on short-term product enhancements
  • New ideas on how to refine our ethnographic research process

Of course, Mark43 customers went above and beyond what we expected. We received everything we hoped to, and more, including: 

  • Validation of projects recently added to the product roadmap
  • Support for product design updates
  • Baseline usability data to test future product versions against
  • Identification and resolution of application bugs

What’s next

Of course, the research, bug smashing, product enhancements, and feature upgrades didn’t end when the hackathon did. To start, we are collating and synthesizing the data we collected and sharing it with our internal teams.

These internal teams aren’t wasting any time leveraging the hackathon’s success. Right now, our product, engineering, and quality assurance (QA) teams are testing the deployment-ready hackathon projects to ensure they meet Mark43 production standards before pushing the application updates out to our customers. 

Meanwhile, our product design team is transcribing, analyzing, and synthesizing the 34+ hours of research sessions for insights and themes that will inform the product and design teams for the upcoming quarter’s initiatives.

We’re also developing a research repository to help our product teams coordinate research findings and product improvements. 

The 2021 Mark43 Customer Hackathon exceeded our expectations, and we can’t wait to expand the event in the future.

By the way, you can check out more photos from the event on our Facebook page.

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