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If you have ever stopped by at the SAP Labs Campus in Palo Alto on Hillview Avenue, you are familiar with the sight of horses neighing and riding along the grassy hills just right outside of the SAP Labs buildings. But if you hear a cacophony of pigs' grunts echoing from the SAP cafeteria, then you know that the SAP Gamification Cup demojam is on.
A few weeks ago, SAP CTO Vishal Sikka and SAP Labs Managing Director Barbara Holzapfel had invited the Palo Alto SAP employees to participate in an internal innovation event. The overarching theme was "gamification". Gamification, which Wikipedia defines as "the use of game play mechanics for non-game applications [..] to encourage users to engage in desired behaviors in connection with the applications", is a current industry trend, that influences business software (and makes a lot of sense). Similar to the social media trend 2 years ago, it is going to stay.
For the SAP Gamification Cup, Vishal and Barbara sent us on a "mission". A mission to understand gamification and to apply it to business software and business processes. For that, SAP employees were invited to submit their ideas, form teams, create software prototypes and show a six-minute demo at the demojam on June 14th to a jury consisting of SAP executives and external experts.
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.