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    October 14, 2022
    6 minute read

    Our Learnings From the Inaugural Salsify Partner Hackathon

    by: Adam Ferrari

    Last week, Salsify, along with six of our premier partner organizations, held our first-ever Salsify Partner Hackathon. 

    We have a long and treasured history of running internal Salsify engineering team hackathons, but this is our first time collaborating with partners. 

    Making life easier for teams developing content for the digital shelf is incredibly central to our platform value, so our inaugural hackathon was focused on improving Salsify Workflow.

    The experience and resulting demos were amazing!

    What Did the Salsify Partner Hackathon Entail?

    We were fortunate and extremely grateful to have six amazing partners participate in the event, including three of our system integrator (SI) partners — Gournay Consulting, Sitation, and Amplifi — all of whom have done amazing work delivering value for customers on Salsify. 

    Three of our highly requested independent software vendor (ISV) partners — Translations.com, OneSpace, and SPINS — also participated.

    We created teams that combined staff from the partner organizations with engineers and product experts from Salsify to form small nuclear reactors of innovation. 

    The event took place over two days and mostly focused on intense development. At the end, each team gave an amazing demo presentation. The results did not disappoint.

    Why Did We Choose to Focus on Salsify Workflow? 

    Processes for developing, enriching, and activating content vary widely across organizations. We knew from the inception of Salsify Workflow that it would need to be:

    • Highly flexible;
    • Configurable; and 
    • Extensible to plug in fundamentally new capabilities. 

    The core architecture of Salsify Workflow was developed with these ideas as guiding principles. 

    Our Workflow system was the perfect focus for this event, as it’s been a significant area of innovation at Salsify for more than four years.

    The Salsify Partner Hackathon illuminated the possibilities of what can be built, enabled our partners to develop new routes to innovation, and taught us where we can improve our capabilities for those creative builders.

    Beyond partner engagement, Salsify has placed a top priority on:

    • Platform extensibility;
    • Opening up broader and more complete application programming interfaces (APIs) and structured extension points; and
    • Allowing partners to customize the Salsify platform and easily integrate it with additional services. 

    Collaborating with our partners creates an immense opportunity to build great things for our customers. We bring together the best organizations driving innovation on the digital shelf, with the platform building blocks to unlock their most creative ideas.

    And the Winner Is …

    The demos were all amazing. They showed very clear and concrete customer value, and were presented using some astoundingly high-production-value videos. 

    I participated as a judge alongside Salsify’s executive vice president (EVP) of product, Julie Marobella, and our vice president (VP) of partners and alliances, Taye Mohler. Judging was not easy! 

    The Sitation team took home the prize, with CEO and founder Steve Engelbrecht leading the charge as chief hacker.

    Sitation’s use case was a great balance of practicality and cutting-edge sophistication. Using the GPT-3 language model, Sitation’s solution showed the ability to both automatically generate long-form product descriptions from structured product attribute data and translate that content into additional languages.

    This capability shows great potential for manufacturers who have large catalogs and structured product data, but need rich content to publish to digital retailers and distributors. Without automation, this problem can result in costly manual efforts, or expensive and error-prone scraping approaches. 

    The solution from Sitation utilizes Salsify Workflow and artificial intelligence (AI) to solve the problem automatically.

    Seeing the amazing use case creativity from Sitation — and across all of the teams — was exciting. But as an engineering leader, I was equally excited by the technical creativity. 

    Teams took advantage of all kinds of extensibility building blocks, including the ability to make API calls from Workflow tasks, or create custom logic with a JavaScript block. Teams used extension points such as our Polling bot, Webhook triggers, and Import triggers to seamlessly link flow behaviors to external events and data. 

    Combining our standard task and trigger building blocks as well as extension points such as these, the teams were able to deliver some slick technical feats — cool integrations such as connecting to very asynchronous human-powered workflows in external systems while clearly showing status updates inside of Salsify, or cleanly integrating iterative processes in external systems.

    How Will We Improve Moving Forward?

    Going forward, we’ll focus on building better intake processes to manage integration requests, as we move towards a future where there are more self-service capabilities.

    Before the Hackathon, we made improvements both in the Workflow feature set and developer documentation to make these capabilities accessible.

    In the future, we see opportunities to:

    • Make the developer portal even better and more complete;
    • Further improve self-service access to extension points; and
    • Improve technical ergonomics with capabilities such as packaged configuration management to make it easier to bundle and re-use configuration.

    A Successful Hackathon 

    Our first Salsify Partner Hackathon was a great success in furthering our mission to help our customers win on the digital shelf with innovation, extension, and integration on the Salsify platform. 

    If you’re a customer, we hope you’ll consider how our Workflow system can be adapted to your specific environment and needs, and consider working with one of our amazing partners on that journey. 

    If you're an existing or prospective partner, we hope you’ll reach out to us to learn more about how we can build amazing things together and transform how companies are winning on the digital shelf. 

    Until next time, keep building, and keep hacking!

    Ready to reduce new item setup time, increase automation, and drive cross-functional collaboration across departments? Learn how Salsify Workflow can support you.

    LEARN MORE

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