“Hack Productivity” with Office 365 and Microsoft might give you a prize or two

For some time now, Microsoft has been building out Office 365 to make a user’s central productivity platform for whatever device they are on, wherever they are. Microsoft has gone about this by implementing new sets of API’s for Office 365 and support for Add-in tools to empower developer’s third party apps to work seamlessly and deeply with Microsoft’s key productivity services. This has led to new add-ins coming to Office 365 with Uber, Boomerang, and PayPal being among the first.

Now, to help spur innovation in the use of these API’s, Microsoft is turning to the general public with a hackathon for the next great idea on how to “hack productivity” with Office 365. The technology company is looking for your idea to work smarter and not harder with new tools for being productive in any area of life. And your new idea does not have to be limited to something that helps people get stuff done at work or school, but can be anything that aids people get things done in the life; for their passions, hobbies, or for their families.

Office Competition 2015

Office Competition 2015

The hackathon is runs until March 1st and anyone, except Microsoft employees or large organizations (defined as having 50 employees or more), is eligible. Microsoft employees are not eligible at all, and larger organizations can submit an idea for a recognition award but not for any of the cash prizes. In total, Microsoft is giving away $32,500 in prizes to the winners. Here is a look at what your next big idea for being more productive with Office 365 can win:

  • Grand Prize
    – $10,000 cash
    – Ticket(s) to a Microsoft conference (including travel and lodging reimbursement up to $1,500 each) for no more than two team members
    – 30-minute meeting with a Microsoft product representative (may be in-person or virtual depending on location)
    – 30-minute meeting with a leader from the Microsoft Incubation Group (may be in-person or virtual depending on location)
    – Allowance on a premium Microsoft Office 365 service for one year (for up to five team members)
    – Surface product (1)
  • Second Prize
    – $5,000 cash
    – 30-minute meeting with a Microsoft product representative (may be in-person or virtual depending on location)
    – Allowance on a premium Microsoft Office 365 service for one year (for up to five team members)
    – Surface product (1)
  • Third Prize
    – $2,500 cash
    – Allowance on a premium Microsoft Office 365 service for one year (for up to five team members)
    – Surface product (1)
  • Category Award: Best Personal Productivity Application
    – $1,500 cash
  • Category Award: Best Professional Productivity Application
    – $1,500 cash
  • Category Award: Best Family/Household Productivity Application
    – $1,500 cash
  • Best Student Application Award
    – $1,500 cash
    – Awarded to the best application created by a student or team of students (Full details in rules. Must be taking at least half-time credits or have graduated post-secondary school in the last six months)
  • Best Pre-Coded App Idea
    – $1,500 cash
    – Awarded at the discretion of the judges to the most creative and interesting “pre-coded” application idea for increasing productivity using either a Microsoft Office 365 Add-in or Microsoft Office 365 API
    – To be eligible for this award a submission must not include a functioning application. All other elements of the submission are required, including: a demo video to explain your idea, a text description, and all other form fields.
  • Popular Choice Award
    – $1,500 cash
  • Large Organization Recognition Award
    Non-cash, recognition only for entrants with more than 50 employees. Awards include a feature of your organization’s Microsoft Office 365 implementation along with a link to your organization’s jobs page on Devpost and in a Microsoft blog post.

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The requirements of the hackathon are fairly straightforward. Submit any application that helps users increase their productivity. The application must include a Microsoft Office 365 Add-in and integrate at least one of the Microsoft Office 365 APIs (Mail, Calendar, Files, Photos/Video, Contacts, or Microsoft Graph). Once you have your application, you have to submit the following three assets:

  1. A demo video (hosted on YouTube, Vimeo, or Youku). Your video should include a demo of your working application via a step-by-step visual demo.
  2. Please submit at least one image/screenshot of your application.
  3. A way to access your working application for judging and testing. (Here’s How)

So if you or you and some of your colleagues have the next great idea for being more productive with Office 365, follow these steps to enter your submission to the hackathon:

  1. “Register” to access the submission form, receive important communications, and form teams.
  2. Sign up for your free Microsoft Developer Account.
  3. Visit the Resources page for links to Microsoft Office 365 API and Add-in documentation, requirements, and app ideas.
  4. Find a teammate (optional). Do you have the UX chops, but need someone who can code? Are you a genius coder, but need some design flair? Join our Hack Productivity-only Slack channel.
  5. Shoot your demo video and take screenshots of your functioning app.
  6. Provide a way for us to access your app.
  7. Submit early! (You can edit your submission as many times as you want before the deadline.)

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Submissions are due March 1st 2016 at the latest, but the Microsoft Devpost team encourages developers to submit early. Submissions will be judged by a panel of five, which comprises two CEOs and a Managing Director from other tech companies, a yet to be named guest speaker, and JD Marymee, Enterprise Architect at Microsoft. Submissions will be judged on three criteria:

  • Quality of Idea
    Includes creativity and originality of the idea or use case.
  • Implementation of Idea
    Includes how well the idea was executed by the developer and the extent to which the application utilizes the Microsoft Office 365 APIs or Add-ins in a way that increases productivity.
  • Potential Impact
    Includes the extent to which the application could impact the user’s productivity.

If you have any questions about the contest, want to talk to other participants, or are looking for a potential teammate, the Devpost team also setup a Slack channel exclusively for the Hack Productivity contest. You can access the Slack channel here.

So if you have the next great idea for how to get things done using Office 365, sign up now and win some cash and recognition for your productivity hack that could go on to become the next big App.

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What third-party app ideas could help you be more productive with Office 365?