enterprise2.0

Making Enterprise Gamification Work – Part 1: Get the definition of enterprise gamification correct

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You would have looked at the definition of gamification if you are responsible for implementing gamification in your enterprise systems. Chances are, more often than not, you would have come across a definition that reads like the one below:

Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems.[1][2][3] Gamification is used in applications and processes to improve user engagementreturn on investmentdata qualitytimeliness, and learning.[4]

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamification

As a person who will be implementing gamification, you will be required to give a 1-2 line pitch of what gamification is to people who may not know what it is. Now, you will have few choices to make:

  • Use the above definition to explain what is gamification and then be prepared for questions & responses like “games”… “what games” “….oh you mean create games” and so on or even looks which convey “.. that went over my head” .. i don’t understand a word of what you just said…”.
  • After your experiences with above definition, you will quickly fall back to using terms like ‘adding badges, levels, awards to systems’ . This will be a sure shot way to trivialize the impact of gamification even before you embark on the journey.

The above definition may work or make sense to people implementing gamification in consumer facing applications, research scholars, academia but there is very little chance of the above getting traction in an enterprise context. The reality is that people either can’t understand the connection between terms like games (or terms like game-mechanics) to serious enterprise work  or they will equate it to something trivial.

In case of enterprise gamification, the envelope containing the message is as important as the message itself. As they say, the first impressions/perceptions of many things can make or break initiatives. Your choice of definition on what gamification means is one of those.

Why organizations need 2 different Social Media Policies

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Dion made an excellent blog post on the subject of connecting employees to social media where he elaborates the need for a comprehensive social media policy. I agree with his thoughts on this subject and firmly believe that organizations, who want to start their journey towards social enablement need to critically think on the SM policy that they need to create. Starting the SM journey without a sound SM policy is like driving on a road with no defined destination.

While most SM efforts are targeted towards the enterprise engaging in & leveraging external social channels, I firmly believe that organizations need to be socially enabled internally and then only they can be truly socially engaged externally. Going forward, it just can’t be let to a select group of people (in marketing, sales, customer service) to be socially enabled externally without they tapping into the internal social enabled enterprise.

Towards this, I think that the dynamics, context & implementation nuances within the enterprise are different from the external landscape and hence there is a need for a differentiated internal & external SM policy. This doesn’t mean that they differ at the concept level but just the implementations, rules of engagement could differ and clearly articulating it though separate SM policies would reduce confusion & give greater clarity.

For example, the external policy could have rules of engagement in external channels, do’s & don’ts, workflows, roles & authorizations, NDA’s etc aspects covered; while the internal policy could focus on tying internal social initiatives with work, collaboration, KRA’s, objectives, culture, rewards, acceptable norms of engagement, IP etc.

What do you think? do you also think there is a need for separate internal/external SM policies or just one will do? What’s been your experience?

Social Memory | Conversations are as important as the content itself

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Traditional content systems focus only the ‘creation’ aspect of the content and this is achieved through individual contributions or through collaborative efforts.
With the advent of Social Software – like Blogs, Artifacts, Q&A, Bookmarks and any ‘knowledge object’, apart from building value through collaboration one can build value through leveraging the individual actions around those knowledge objects and build a long term social memory.

Such individual actions are of low engagement and, individually, on a standalone basis they have little vale but the aggregation of these add up to lot more value  — like the ‘long tail’ phenomenon.

Social Software gives people the ‘choice’ to move between low engagement to high engagement depending on their interest levels and time. For example for a particular artifact or a category of artifact person A may choose to be just content with reading, subscribing or adding tags but at a different time & for a different category of artifact the same person may choose to refactor, comment, collaborate and have high levels of engagement.

The power that social software brings about is ‘providing the choice’ to the people to do all this and in the process making the conversation around the content as important as the content itself.

Social Computing behind the firewall | Pay attention to the ‘social’ behind the ‘computing’ for success

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With the advent of web2.0 and the perceived success of these technologies, tools, applications & platforms on the internet, making these tools & applications available behind the firewall seems to be the flavor of the season. It seems that any organization worth it’s salt ‘has to have‘ a enterprise 2.0 or web2.0 or a social strategy.  Most of the time, the people leading these initiatives don’t understand the essence of ‘web2.0/social’ applications and these initiatives then get reduced to rolling out blogs, wiki’s, social networking tools behind the firewall and asking people to use them.

This strategy of just rolling out social networking tools, without understanding why social computing works on the internet, is a recipe for disaster and any enterprise2.0 or social computing initiative based on a focus of just the ‘technology’ part will be short lived and not go anywhere. Anyone leading a social computing initiative behind the firewall needs to understand the ‘social science’ behind the ‘computing’ to appreciate why it has worked in the internet world and what all ‘social’ factors need to be considered and appropriate changes that need to be made in order for it to work in the more restricted ecology of a modern organisation.

Some of the underlying ‘social’ concepts that one needs to understand are:

  • User Participation: What factors drive user behavior and participation in social computing platforms on the internet? What are the key drivers and how is the organizational playground different from the internet w.r.t these key factors & drivers?
  • Emergence & Evolution: Do the managers & leaders of the organization understand the role of emergence in social computing or are they impatient and need all answers upfront and a ‘predictable‘ outcome with all intermediate steps outlined?
  • Managing vs Nurturing: Does the environment of the organization  create space for nurturing of people, ideas, thoughts, aspirations of employees or is the organization all about managing numbers, KRA’s etc.
  • The Arena Itself: What is good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander here. The dynamics, the participation levels, the numbers of people participating in the social applications on internet would be vastly different from that behind the firewall.
  • Value Networks: Do organizations that want to extend the social computing platforms to their customers/partners etc understand that this is not just as simple as offering these platforms to customers? What are the additional things that need to be done?
  • Cultural Alignment: The ‘secret sauce’ according to me in the whole recipe of social computing behind the firewall. One could have an organization that understands all this but still does not have the right cultural alignment to make social computing work. What are the critical factors w.r.t culture here?

Social computing has the potential to transform how business operates, how the flow of business knowledge, insights, intelligence and collaboration happens across the organization. Social computing can create alternative & more effective ways of communicating and collaborating across the organization, but the  key to that promise lies in how well the leaders of the social computing initiative understand the above ‘social’ concepts & realities.

I will try and outline the key aspects of  each of the above points in more detail in my subsequent posts.

Generation gap, web2.0 & the cost of missed opportunities…

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In a casual conversation with a practice/business head of an IT services firm, I happened to ask her how she is seeing the adoption of Web2.0 in the organizations she interacts with and her line of business. Her response was on the lines of:

‘Very less.. it’s too early… actually people don’t want social networking the way it is on Flickr, YouTube.. In my view, LinkedIn is the ideal social networking platform… it is text based and doesn’t have too many images etc.. I can quickly check it out and come back… Why would I want to see my friends pictures on the net…. It’s a waste of time… how will it benefit the organization..’

Her responses made me wonder:

  • Do our business leaders really understand, or have attempted to understand what Web2.0 is all about?
  • Why do our business leaders equate Web2,0 to Social networking?

I my opinion:

  • The generation gap between the GenNet and Baby Boomer generation has HUGE implications on how web2.0 is viewed within the organizations and how it can be out to productive use.
  • In most organizations the leaders belong to the Baby Boomer generation and their interactions, in the course of business, would be with other baby boomers in their counterpart organization. This scenario lends nicely to a classic status quo model(unintentionally, without even the leaders realizing it) and a huge opportunity is being squandered – both in business, competitive advantage context.

Organizations that recognize the existence of generation gap within it’s workforce, the relevance of Web2.0 to todays genNet generation are in a great position to leverage the advantages of web2.0 within an enterprise to become more responsive, agile & competitive.

It’s an opportunity that an organization can either say ‘Pass’ or grab with both hands and run.