Saturday, April 16, 2011

Games @ Work
Over the past six months, I have been thinking about the potential use of gaming within the enterprise. The explosive growth of Zynga and other social gaming companies demonstrates how engaging the combination is. In addition, we humans respond extremely well to rewards: loyalty programs, bonuses, etc. Reward programs are also widely used to incent certain customer and employee behavior.

Recently, I came across a new term for this trend - Gamification. I like the Wikipedia definition: The use of game play mechanics for non-game applications.

Game theory is beginning to be widely used to influence customer engagement, behavior and even employee productivity. This BusinessWeek article has examples of use of game theory at a broad range of companies: SAP, Hilton, Siemens, UPS, Nissan, Target, etc.

Earlier this week, Gartner, jumped on the bandwagon with a bold statement: "over half of innovation will be gamified by 2015". Here is a ZDnet story covering Gartners' report in detail. Gartner is advising that "Enterprise architects, CIOs and IT planners must be aware of, and lead, the business trend of gamification, educate their business counterparts and collaborate in the evaluation of opportunities within the organization".

I am pleased that we at the CTO Roundable of Washington DC sensed the trend early and are putting together our next Summit on "What CTOs should learn from Gaming" in early fall.

Image: Pacman by Preeti

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Social tools in the workplace
I presented at the marcusevans CIO Summit on Tuesday, April 12 in Dallas. After briefly covering how knowledge workers are craving social features in consumer technologies within the workplace, I talked about the Why?, What? and How? of our Enterprise 2.0 initiative:
  • Why? In my view the enormous increase in pace of product cycles is primarily driving the need for Fast and Efficient solutions to support Knowledge Work. IT has traditionally focused on Process Automation and Transaction Processing. ERP systems and other enterprise technologies are very ill-suited for knowledge work. Given that fact that companies must innovate faster, Enterprise 2.0 tools that help knowledge workers be more productive are in great demand and are being deployed at a very fast pace. Our main requirements for a solution are: need to create an online workplace for our dispersed workforce, an efficient communication platform and an easy to use interface. Cost is also a big driver for us.

  • What? In my mind, each company has specific needs that must be analyzed before a system is deployed. Standing-up a SharePoint instance and letting customers design applications of their choice is not sufficient to turbo-charge collaboration and innovation. We hired the Dachis Group for a short project to help analyze our requirements and prioritize our needs from within the best-practice features for such a platform. They also helped us ramp-up our teams' knowledge in the domain.

  • How? Our guiding principles for designing a solution are:
    - Optimal User / Enterprise balance
    - High-quality user experience
    - It is a program, not a technology
    - Low cost to operate
    - Low customization
    - One platform, many communities, many teams
    - Easy access management (auto provisioning, SSO)
    - Measure ... Iterate ... Measure ... Iterate

    We are building the solution on a leading-edge Open Source platform.
We then discussed how companies are making these platforms successful. Unfortunately, I did not get much input from the CIOs in the room. We have yet to deploy our platform, so, I did not have any real experiences to share. I did discuss some information I have gathered from analysts. Will try and write another post on the topic after 6 months.

Pic: Spring was recently in our back yard!