The Malaysia Developers’ Day 2013 was the first AT&T event of its kind in Asia Pacific. Building on last year’s success, AT&T and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) are once again co-hosting 2014 Malaysia Developers’ Day – ASEAN Edition on Sept. 17-19 in Kuala Lumpur. This year, event will be larger in scale, scope and reach and will be a great opportunity to experience the power of innovation through collaboration across Asia.

Ahead of the event on Wednesday, we asked Carlton Hill, vice president, Device Operations and Developer Services, AT&T, to share her thoughts and insights about AT&T Developer Program and 2014 Malaysia Developers’ Day – ASEAN Edition.

Q: Carlton, let’s start by asking you what AT&T Developer Program does.

A: Sure. AT&T was the first carrier in the US to create a developer program back in 1996. We saw it as a strategic opportunity and priority to bring developers under our wing, open up our network and API’s to help foster innovation and move the industry forward. The growth of our program and reaction from the developer community has been phenomenal.

Given how central the smartphone is to our lives, it’s critical that we are open to and embrace developers. And, I think this is why our program has been so successful and continues to receive industry accolades.

Q: That sounds exciting. What can participants learn from the AT&T Developer Program?

A: Through our hackathons and DevLabs throughout the year, we give developers hands-on learn opportunities to develop new skills, make apps more efficient and capitalize on our network to create innovative new apps for consumers and businesses.

Our hackathons are just one way we bring developers together to discuss hot trends happening in the industry and around the world. By giving developers access to new tools, our API’s and experts from both AT&T and third-party organizations, we are helping break new ground on innovation that benefit consumers.

Q: Are there any successful stories from any of the past hackathons?

A: We have seen a number of successful apps emerge from different hackathons in the past years. One of my favorite examples is called Sleepbot. Developed during our inaugural AT&T Summit Hackathon in 2012, Sleepbot was created to assist users in learning more about their sleeping habits and how it impacts their lives. Inspired by their second place at the hackathon, the Sleepbot developers continued to work on their app and launched it commercially. They have not looked back since generating over 1 million downloads and being listed by a leading commentator as one of Top 100 apps to download.

Q: Going back to 2014 Malaysia Developers’ Day – ASEAN Edition, what can the developers expect from the event this year?

A: We are excited to work with MCMC again this year to bring innovation to Asia. The event will challenge participants from 14 countries in Asia to create a mobile app within 24 hours. Teams can develop apps and compete in three categories, all under the theme of “Building a Digital Ecosystem.” The three categories are “best app for community involvement,” “best app for smart city” and “best app for commercialization.”

We will provide the resources, education and networking structure to create apps more quickly and at a lower cost. Participants will have access to AT&T’s API’s and quickly plug them into their apps and added functionality.

Teams that come up with the best apps will win prizes totaling more than USD15,000, including 12 scholarships for online software training to empower the next generation of innovators in the region.

Q: I understand that the event was a huge success last year. What happened to the winning teams last year? Did any ideas turn into a real app commercially?

A: Last year’s Malaysia Developers’ Day proved to be a success, with more than 110 participants and 24 new app ideas created.  It was also the first developer’s day for AT&T in Asia Pacific. One of the participating teams has received RM330K (approximately USD104,732) in funding from MCMC to continue to invest in their app. The project is called “Speed Mandarin E-Learning App.” It provides a mobile app that provides the Mandarin learning system on web and mobile platforms (iOS and Android). The app will have three levels of 250 Mandarin characters each. Each Mandarin character will have its definition, pinyin, pictogram and simple animation.

Q: Lastly, any advice for the developers who will participate in 2014 Malaysia Developers’ Day – ASEAN Edition?

A: At AT&T, we’re increasing the speed of innovation through openness and interoperability. Great ideas go to work for our customers quickly, seamlessly and everywhere. We were pleasantly amazed by the innovation and talent by the developers in Malaysia last year. By expanding this event to 14 countries in Asia this year, we hope to see even more innovation and creativity to drive the region forward.

My advice to all participants is that they should not limit themselves on their thinking. Be bold and out-of-box. Think about the pressing issue that you want to tackle and come up with the insights and a big idea. And, of course, teamwork and time management are also crucial!