Empowering Users vs Industrial Software
Software designed to empower workers rather than forcing workers to use software (I’m looking at you, SAP) isn’t exactly a new principle, but software developers have gotten good enough at providing functionality that they can now focus on new levels of usability. This is exciting, and will see things like…
The Gamification of, Well, Everything!
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Gamification is making its way into so many aspects of modern life that it’s an absolute certainty it will find its way into the workplace. While still being explored, the application of game mechanics to drive cravings for greater status, achievement, and progression has shown a real impact on consumers. Users have rewarded these techniques with loyal behavior and billions of dollars in profit. The gaming industry is exploding as more and more people realize they love playing games. To capture that enjoyment and apply it to a work setting has enormous value. Not to mention that upcoming generations have among the highest response rates to this kind of motivation yet seen, and have so far been difficult to fit into traditional workplace norms. Does this kind of engagement sound like something businesses would be interested in spurring up their employees? Of course.
This might not seem entirely new for a workforce that already rewards accomplishments. Sales are rewarded with commissions and prestige, driving a hunger for even more sales. Working harder and producing results leads to promotion. For many, careers are already gamified, and for others there is no way to improve productivity with gaming. But in the areas that employees interact with enterprise software – for data entry, for onboarding, for content generation and knowledge capture – gamification can enhance engagement, enjoyment, all while boosting productivity. It also contributes to the next looming beast on the horizon…
Data is Taking Over
Corporations today rely on metrics to define performance, so much so that accomplishment that cannot be supported by metrics can at times be valueless. The metrics are built from data primarily driven by hard, old fashioned, business information collecting – production numbers, asset value, profit and loss. But now overall understanding of the power of data is beginning to be realized – now individual behaviors are capturable at unprecedented levels.
Facebook paid $19 billion for WhatsApp, not because its technology is worth anything – chat apps are a dime a dozen – but because of its 600 million users. Their activities and usage patterns can be analyzed to unlock unprecedented, minute details of users lives that Facebook can use to improve its service – $19 billion worth! Monitoring and analysis of data generated by usage of modern technologies reveals vast human behavioral patterns not accessible in a ‘self-reporting’ environment. What people do when they think nobody is looking is capturable now, and it’s finally giving us an honest and accurate picture of people’s lives. A business can utilize this to not only optimize performance of their business, but optimize the conditions for their employees.
If, as an employee, this is a bit more than disconcerting, it shouldn’t be. While this has all the trappings of a big brother, oppressive state written all over it, corporations today realize more than ever that a happy employee is a productive employee. Capturing usage statistics for the tools they provide their workers helps them improve those tools. If a particular tool is showing low usage rates, why might that be, and how can the tool be improved? It’s not about creating robotic workers, data privacy laws still exist (for everyone not called the NSA), it’s about optimally utilizing talented people to seek the best results.