To keep up with the ever-changing and increasingly complicated e-commerce industry, the ChannelAdvisor platform is in a constant state of development. Our software developers are hard at work year round creating solutions, solving problems, inventing workarounds and building other efficiencies that enable our clients to sell more products online and our company to operate more efficiently.
But sometimes, our developers get to let loose.
It’s called Developer Choice Days, and it’s one of many proud ChannelAdvisor traditions.
Developer Choice Days happen every few months, and they’re basically free days for our developers to work on projects of their choice, fueled by their own intellectual curiosity and passions. After they’ve spent time working through their ideas — either by themselves or with a team of collaborators — they come together to present their ideas to their peers and an interdepartmental panel of judges.
It’s kind of like Shark Tank. Just more supportive. And way more fun.
Prizes are awarded for the best overall projects, as well as projects that are deemed most helpful to our services, support and sales teams.
Some of the ideas are brilliant, some are off the wall. Some benefit our customers, and some aim to improve the internal operations of our company.
By nature, developers and engineers are creative people who enjoy creative problem solving. The Developer Choice Days program was born as an outlet to unlock that creativity and bring to light problems that need solving.
And it’s not too much of a stretch to say that the ideas generated in this room go on to affect the course of the e-commerce industry. Marshall McClure, a software engineer, says that one of the great things about Developer Choice Days is that many of the ideas have gone on to become major features of the ChannelAdvisor application in one form or another.
“It’s always a success,” said McClure. “You still learn something, whether your project is ultimately built the way you envisioned it or not. It comes out better. Maybe some company processes are improved, the platform adds new features or our technology choices are improved.”
Sometimes, says McClure, the results show our team where not to invest time. “Maybe you work on your project and the end result is: ‘This is why this idea doesn’t work, and this is why we shouldn’t do it.’”
Project ideas come from all over. It could be a ChannelAdvisor employee approaching the engineering department and saying, “My customer keeps having this issue.” Or it could be a kernel of an idea that may have applications way beyond the developer’s original intent.
The result at the Developer Choice Days review presentation is really a grab bag of ideas and solutions. Case in point: At our most recent review, one developer proposed a system that could potentially help our clients with their long-term e-commerce strategies across various online channels. Another developer just wanted new people to eat lunch with and pitched a company-wide social network that would sync employees up for lunch dates.
But that’s the beauty of the environment. It’s a place for great engineers to be comfortable, let their hair down and do what they do best: Identify and solve complex problems.
In a few months, we’ll look forward to seeing which idea might emerge as the next big project. Or perhaps, the next idea that leads to the next big idea.
As always, you can stay up to date with the goings-on here at ChannelAdvisor on the blog (which you can now access via your Alexa device!). And to learn more about how you can join the ChannelAdvisor team, visit our Careers page.