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Poor design hampers gamification in the enterprise November 27, 2012

Posted by Mark Hillary in Current Affairs, IT Services, Software.
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Gamification is a great way to use the principles for gaming within a different environment, to make a task or process fun. Think for a moment about the badges you are awarded for adding more reviews on Tripadvisor or the awards like ‘Mayor’ status awarded on Foursquare for users frequently checking into specific locations.

Many commentators have predicted that the enterprise workplace can be improved by ‘gamifying’ many of those dull corporate systems we are forced to use at work. Imagine a sales system for example where sales associates need to enter details of calls to prospects – usually that’s a fairly dull CRM system. Change it to start featuring league tables and awards and even the same information can now seem a lot more interesting.

But industry analyst Gartner has warned that most enterprise systems are too clunky to change easily.

Speaking to Computer Weekly Brian Burke, research vice-president at Gartner said:

“Organisations are simply counting points, slapping meaningless badges on activities and creating gamified applications that are simply not engaging for the target audience. Some organisations are already beginning to cast off poorly designed gamified applications.”

It’s clear that these systems need more than just pretty badges to work, a wake-up call that should have been obvious to the enterprise technology managers, but then a gamified system is really a complex motivational device – not just a piece of software with badges.

Managers of enterprise systems might want to ask why consumer systems are so easy to use. Think of Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. If internal communications and systems were as easy to use as the tools we all use at home then how much more productive could your team be?

Space Invader

Photo by Fabian Ortiz licensed under Creative Commons

Is becoming outcome-based the answer for outsourcing? January 10, 2011

Posted by Mark Hillary in Government, IT Services, Outsourcing.
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One of the key trends in outsourcing that has been led by the public sector – rather than the super-fast and advanced private sector – is the move towards outcome-based-agreements. But as contracts are increasingly written with payment tied to outcomes, the suppliers need to be more open about their real abilities from the start, not once the contract has been won.

The latest research from analyst firm Gartner on sales in the outsourcing sector did show that sales to the big suppliers are actually down. After the last couple of lean years, no matter how much outsourcing firms do to cut costs, they can’t avoid their own sales being down when compared to the boom years. Therefore, many of the big mega-contracts for outsourcing suppliers have remained on hold until very recently.

But suppliers offering their services based on payment for outcomes have noticed that business is better than average.
Both suppliers and buyers have a lot to gain from more outcome-based agreements and the reasons are obvious in the current climate – you can share the gain when times are good and share the pain when times are hard.
But outcomes and causation can be hard to agree on. There have been examples of companies using share price performance as a desired outcome. It sounds logical, if the share price is performing well then the supplier must be doing a good job for the client, but in many cases the supplier might have no influence over their client’s share price at all – a company running your IT helpdesk for example. Why would they be rewarded or penalised based on your share price if their actions don’t directly influence that measure?

Outcome based agreements work well where the supplier can take over an entire process and then price that process, rather than the component parts – the headcount and infrastructure required to deliver the service.
It does make contract negotiation a lot harder, as a period of parallel running may be required to calibrate the supplier prices, and it does need a greater sense of respect and trust between the client and supplier.

Whether this will become common practice in the private sector is anyone’s guess. What will be really interesting though will be to see how much the contracts rely on trust between parties and how much can actually be documented about expected future outcomes.