Dotdigital’s Hack Week 2023
Hack week is an annual fixture here at Dotdigital. As the year winds down, the Product and Technology teams take time out to create, innovate, and experiment. We aim to push our platform in new directions and to plant the seeds of features that will one day be part of the Dotdigital product.
Collaborate to innovate
In the lead-up to hack week, any staff member can pitch an idea. These ideas might take inspiration from our roadmap, involve trying out an emerging technology, or simply aim to resolve a pain point. Some years have a theme; this year, teams were encouraged to build both for and with AI.
Hackers – including engineers, data scientists, and QAs – form small groups and adopt these ideas, or come up with their own schemes. Each group has four days to work on their project and prepare a short video presentation. Judges are appointed from across the company to pick their winners in three categories (most wanted, most innovative, and best video). There is a live audience vote in two further categories (best team name and best hack).
2023 saw an exceptional crop of hacks with some very impressive videos. Let’s get to it.
Most wanted (and best hack)
Hack name: HappierKat!
Team name: That feeling when you look down expectantly for the second half of your sandwich only to realize that you’ve already eaten it
The winning hack in the most wanted category takes data submitted in surveys, pages and forms and stores this as insight data. This unlocks various capabilities, such as being able to customize the email sent to form respondents. By pushing submitted data into an insight data collection, we can also use this data in program decision nodes to set marketing preferences, based on checked values in the submission.
As well as being picked by the judges, the Team That feeling … sandwich also saw off strong competition to be voted best hack by the audience.
Hack name: GPTranslatortron: Automate translations for in–app help, app translations, campaign translations, and perhaps even chat
Team name: Lost in Translation
Our platform is already available in 15 languages, but can we use WinstonAI to automate translation as we add more features? Even better, can we offer translation for the text that merchants input into Easy Editor? Can we enable translation in chat threads? GPTranslatortron delivers a resounding Yes to all of these questions.
Hack name: Dotdigital Automation Alchemists: Using natural language to automate Program generation using GPT4, RAG, and custom models
Team name: Team Automation Innovate (Team AI)
Inspired by the idea that program building could be automated to save time and cost, this hack explored the use of retrieval-augmented generation to teach ChatGPT about our programs. The team used Microsoft’s Azure AI Search platform to store and index vector embeddings, which then allowed WinstonAI to interpret a prompt containing a program description like:
At 1 pm on the day the contact is created, send the message “Hello there General Kenobi you are a bold one.”
Best team name
That feeling when you look down expectantly for the second half of your sandwich only to realize that you’ve already eaten it
Arguably the longest and silliest team name in the history of hack week, That feeling … sandwich swept the board with over 40% of the popular vote.
Hack name: Watercooler Roulette
Team name: Culture Catalyst
A worthy runner-up in the best video category, this hack was all about team bonding and morale for remote teams. A series of Slack messages prompt interactions and conversations between employees who might not have the opportunity to meet in person around a physical water cooler.