Attending my First Ever Hackathon: Data Quality Edition

Update: My team came in 3rd place (podium finish) 💃🏽

This week, I enrolled in my first ever hackathon. I've never been a fan of hackathons; I've been to them but I never enrolled as a participant. I would show up, collect swag, sometimes food and bounce.

I saw a hackathon announcement on our company slack on the data-literacy channel and I was intrigued. You see, a while ago I talked about my interest in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) and from my exploration, I've come to realise that data is an important asset; data is the input you give to a computer to learn from so it's pretty important to building a great AI model. That intrigue pushed me into signing up for the hackathon.

I didn't know what to expect at all. All I knew going in to it was that I would learn something about data and data analysis that I didn't know before.

From the workshops to the hackathon experience, here are a few things I managed to pick up:


Before this hackathon, I had never heard of the word Tableau talk less of the product or its usefulness. Tableau is an interactive data visualization software that allows product/data analyst create powerful dashboards that produce insights from data. If you want to take Tableau for a spin, play this escape room game where you have to answers to questions from the dashboard. Trust me, very fun!

We used Tableau to answer metrics we have come up with concerning what our customers would like to see when they are focused on data quality.

Data Quality

Data quality is exactly like it sounds; the quality of your data. Everyone wants data they can trust and data that is of the highest quality. To be able to make business decisions from data or to be able to automate tasks with AI, high quality data is a necessity. I learned about different cardinalities/dimensions of data and how these help you in measuring the quality of your data.

The hackathon was to give people who are concerned with data quality (people like product owners or data quality analysts) the ability to see the data's quality across the different data quality dimensions we hold dear as an organization. So we (the participants) had the responsibility of coming up with a creative and simple way of conveying that information on a high level but also give our customers the ability to see other metrics that are important in helping them get their jobs done more effectively.

This was interesting for me because it made me look at data from a different angle. Instead of something that I collect from my software and saved in a database, I thought of it as a resource that questions could be asked from and produce insights and value. I would say that was an interesting paradigm shift I got from this whole experience.

Soft Skills

I worked with 2 very different people. I'm usually a more opinionated person and this was the first time I was the laid back/peace broker/middle man. There were times when I had to disagree and commit and my teammates couldn't. They both had strong opinions and sometimes refused to back down. I found it kind of hilarious to observe tbh.

I also learned to listen and be humble. Working with data and creating dashboards to analyse data is not my forté so I was a little out of my depth. I had to listen and think before responding or stating an opinion. I asked so many dumb questions but I was okay with it because I knew I was learning things I had no idea about.

It lasted 15 hours and the organizers were kind enough to limit to to working hours. It was a pleasant experience. I enjoyed the thrill of doing something I had no idea how it was going to turn out.

By the way, I was the designer on the team. Since I have some design experience, I was tasked with making the dashboard look pretty. That was fun!

Peace and Love, Chi

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