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The game is on! The SAP Gamification Cup at SAP Labs in Palo Alto started yesterday. CTO Vishal Sikka and SAP Labs Palo Alto managing director Barbara Holzapfel invited 2,000 employees on the campus for an opportunity to unleash their innovative spirit, collaboration, and creativity in the area of user experience and user engagement: The SAP Gamification Cup.
In the next weeks employees will form teams and focus on creating software prototypes that reflect a gamification approach and outcome. How can we make the travel expense system more engaging and fun, how the leave request, how can we nudge people to be more compliant with time reporting, or how can we onboard them slowly on complex software and not frustrate them? Or are there ways to make the UI of manufacturing processes way more gameful with avatars or 3D worlds like FarmVille or SimCity? And what about racking users achievements and better identifying experts and the best users like we do on the SAP Developer Network?
The beloved characters from the Dilbert-comicstrips day after day nail the stark difference of what corporations want you to believe the corporate life is, and of what the corporate life really is like. Wally keeps slacking and still stays on the payroll. No matter what Alice and Dilbert are doing, they never get rewarded and end up at the loosing end. And the pointy-haired boss hires Dogbert and Catbert as consultants to put everyone at the edge and they usually win (with hilarious logic).
Dilbert-inventor Scott Adams draws inspiration from managers, who keep telling us that the talents and skills of employees are important and that hard working employees will be promoted and rewarded. What employees experience is quite different: not good work or expertise is rewarded, but kissing up to the right people, being well connected but also a good town crier of your "achievements". And this is true for even the most highly regarded corporations. Instead of a meritocracy we live in a "kiss-upocracy".
In 2011 I launched the "Innovation Steampunks". Why you haven't heard about it? Because it's currently an SAP-internal, virtual group where SAP employees can join innovative ideas. These ideas - we call them "punk-projects" – can be tossed into the forum by any colleague – we call these folks "steampunks" - independent from what organization or on what level of the internal food chain they are. These punk-projects don't necessarily need to be relevant to SAP, our products or strategy. The only criteria is that the idea-originator and other steampunks find it worth spending their time on it. And faster than not, ideas that seemed totally unrelated to SAP in the past suddenly wound up in the center of our strategy.
The ideas tossed into the pit are discussed by the steampunks, and this in an honest and constructive way. If there is a whiner, naysayer, or know-it-all putting down the idea, we don't want him or her. We tell them to stay away.
Gamification is a trend that is finally reaching the enterprise. Understanding game mechanics and dynamics and how they engage and empower users and give them a sense of control and productivity is something that must not be left to games. Players in the most successful massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft (WoW) have spent more than 50 billion hours of play since the start of this game in 2004. They have created 250.000 articles in the WoW-Wiki, which is the second largest wiki, only topped by Wikipedia. On average each WoW-player spends 17-21 hours per week playing WoW. If you look at Halo, Farmville, Mafiawars and many other popular online games, you will find the same engagement, hard work and dedication to these games.
Now what exactly makes players so engaged? What makes them work so hard? And how can we leverage this for the real world, like businesses, charities, communities? This has started to puzzle and catch the interest of experts. With a rising number of employees who have grown up with video games, the average age of video gamers being at 33 and the percentage of women playing video games at +40%, the ground for gamifying business software has been prepared. And in fact many gamers are craving to take their time and work from the virtual world to the real world.