niedziela, 6 maja 2012

On the way to Sydney – How to win country final of Imagine Cup in Software Design category

After my post and video I got feedback about the English version. I added English subtitles (maybe you have to turn subtitles on).

And here is the transcript of the recording.
During the Final Gala I have promised, that I would tell you what to do to win the Polish final of Imagine Cup in Software Design category. There are ten steps to win.

The first step is the problem definition. You have to find the problem which is important. Important for your family, friends and for us as humanity. The problem must be consistent with the objectives of the Millennium goals.
How to find the problem? You have to listen to people, look all around you. You have to invent situations which could not have been solved yet. Although the problem is just 10/100 points, this is the foundation on which you will build the future solution. This is the reason why the problem is so important. When you find a problem, describe it in the way so that it will be comprehensible to the others. Having a problem defined, it doesn’t mean that you immediately start resolving it or building your application.

The second step is the vision. Start with the vision in your mind. Your concept should be innovative and cannot duplicate what already exists. This year in the Polish final three similar applications concerned Kinect. But because of the fact that there were as many as three – they have ceased to be innovative.
What you propose must contain something unique, something, which will make your application difficult to copy. For example an algorithm such as speech or pattern recognition, that will distinguish you and be your part to resolve the important problem. Remember that small is beautiful. That small can grow. If you start too wide you will never meet the end. So let’s start with something small, which will grow in the future.

Third - test the concept before writing any line of code. Just talk about your vision like about exciting product for  your future customers or users.  Talk and work with the vision until you hear awow!”, “this is amazing I would like to use it“ You can collect 35/100 points for your idea, innovation and design. Together with the problem 45/100 points.
Do not be afraid to talk about your vision. If the solution will contain something innovative or hard to forge it will not be easy for the followers to go your way.

Fourth, you need to involve a graphic designer as a member of your team. Beautiful and ergonomic interface is very important today. Test your interface using mock-ps. You need to get the “wow” effect about interface too.

Five. Having the vision and interface mock-ups ready, build your business model. Just answer the questions “how do we make money?”. This is the question you will have to answer during the competition and in the real life. Selling your apps you can choose a classic distribution channel or maybe something modern like a marketplace.

Six. Prepare your first presentation. Using the basis of the problem, your vision and interface mock-ups. Do it as if your application was ready. This is particularly important at this point, that not having your application ready you will not be talking so much about its functions. Look for a use case scenarios and present them? Remember that in PowerPoint everything works well. In Flash too. So, please show your solution to the audience before you write the first line of code.

Step seven is planning and architecting. Having the architecture diagram you can add it to the presentation and present again.

Step eight is implementation. We start with the architecture diagram and list of tasks to complete. Remember that the most important are those features that you will be able to show in your presentation. So all what you will not be able to show, will go to the secondary plan. Your objective is not to write 5 000 lines of code. Find the right tools and technologies, integrate what is ready to use.

Nine. With the first version of the solution improve your presentation. And you have to practice, practice and practice again. Although the presentation is only 10/100 of the points, but it will be the main part of the meeting with the jury. Through the presentation the jury will have the opportunity to look deeper into your problem, ideas and the solution. Your presentation must be like your solutions – modern, innovative and perfectly done. The jury would have pleasure to watch and listen to you. 

Ten. This is my last point, but this is not the next step. I would like to add that you have to have dreams, ambitions, a smile on your faces and the pleasure of the competition entry. If you can manage to do all these steps, I hope that next year you will be on the podium as one of the top three teams, or maybe you will get a reward ticket to worldwide final of Imagine Cup.

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