The value of a TechFest for a technology driven company

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Zoominfo’s TechFest is a two day time-out from day-to-day project work where we allow ourselves to think outside the box and brainstorm improvements to ZoomInfo offerings.
As a technology- driven company we of course rely on innovation for all aspects of our product offerings. There is a consistent need for us to both improve our established products and processes as well as to look into the future in order to take our technology to the next level. Undeniably, the driving force of ZoomInfo is our technology and the innovations and improvements we develop now will be what propels us into the future.
Our engineers have responsibility to not only complete their projects on time, but to be constantly focused on what they can do to improve and achieve the ultimate philosophical goal of our development; making the unknown known.
Amid the day to day tasks and resulting pressure to deliver that faces our engineering team, the issue that remains is keeping the department focused on the execution of current projects while simultaneously fostering creativity at the same time. Collectively we realized there was a need for us to take a few days to sit down as a group to clear our heads and discuss what we can do as a team to move us forward. From this need, a TechFest was born 3 years ago. Since then, we have held a number of them, iterating and improving on how to make it more useful for our business and make it more engaging and fun for our engineers.
Before each TechFest, we brainstorm a list of possible topics that may be of interest to explore. This may include a technology that we should look into, a prototype that we think our customers may find interesting, or a productivity tool that can enable our developers to reduce waste in their development tasks. From there, our entire engineering team self-forms into small groups and dives into selected topics or ideas that appeal to them. We have only a few ground rules. They are:
1. Leave your day to day work behind and allow your brain to think about a new and different idea that you may not otherwise have a chance to explore
2. No idea is a bad idea
3. Complete the 2nd day of the TechFest with a demo – yes, we ask for a working code. It can be a very rough prototype, but we need to see something presented and running. We also ask for a wiki page with a brief description of the problem being solved, team working on it, approach chosen, any issues uncovered and so on.
We are in the middle of our TechFest #6. We have found out that even in a relatively short amount of time we can come up with very interesting and useful results that can have a real effect on our company’s ROI. For example, our improved Title Code classification algorithm was born in one of these TechFests.
The value of taking time to hold a TechFest goes beyond just the innovations to our products and technology- it allows for collaboration and teamwork as well as giving our engineering team a stake in the planning and creativity in developing our core technology. Everyone coming together to offer their insights into where we are going technologically takes us to new places we very well may not have gone – not just as a department but as the company as a whole.

Do you think you might be a good fit for the ZoomInfo Engineering team, click here to apply for an open position!

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About Eugenia Gillan

Eugenia Gillan is leading ZoomInfo Engineering team since 2009. She brings more than 20 years of software and quality experience to the position, along with a proven record of building and catalyzing engineering teams to plan and deploy products for global markets. She is charged with driving ZoomInfo's development of groundbreaking data acquisition and delivery technologies.