Gamification of the ERP
While almost everyone is having only "Cloud-enabling" of ERP at top of their mind, i am personally seeing a trend which is what we can say "gamification" of the "serious" ERPs. For the uninitiated, Gamification is (as per wikipedia) the use of game design techniques and mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences. Gamification works by making technology more engaging, by encouraging users to engage in desired behaviors, by showing a path to mastery and autonomy, and by taking advantage of humans' psychological predisposition to engage in gaming. The technique can encourage people to perform chores that they ordinarily consider boring. Can we do something for ERP as well in this areas?
Why the need for Gamification?
People are no longer looking at an ERP as a "monotonous" task facilitating tool. One of the reason for this approach is the competitive offering which are brought in not by any other enterprise application vendor but by the fact that personal devices (particularly iOS and Android and in recent past Windows) have made everyone have a "playful" approach to personal devices - be it smartphones or tablets. Tell me the last time you actually read a manual to use these devices or the last time that you did something else but fiddle around with apps when you had some free time. It is the "lure of play" that drives user adoption and user appreciation.
Changing game due to mobile devices
This is a new wave which has been created not because users wanted them but because some visionaries actually made them want it. To top it all some of the organizations are allowing BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) to work policies and that means that segregation of personal and office devices and applications is going to blur even furthur. I will touch that aspect of BYOD sometime else and focus on the "Gamification" as of now!
I had blogged around sensitivity (time paradigm) earlier (blog called - Taking ahead the thought of "Sensitivity of User Interface " in packages -) where I did touch about gamification but that was just scratching the surface. I feel there is a need today to seriously take the competition head on and change the ERP applications. Interestingly, this competition is coming from a different category though the users are the same. The same users who have a "social" life along with their "responsibilities" in office. The same users who spend hours chasing suppliers for discounts while impulsively spending on ebay on a new type of watch whose dial turns dark in sunlight (don't know how it helps).
The point here is that the whole experience is the reason for that "impulse". I am not going into the classifcation of these as "right" or "wrong" but the point is that there is a human behaviour and we have seen it happen to "same" individual under "different" conditions created by two different applications. Some of you can argue that the stakes are higher in ERP transactions and its not like playing Angry birds! But the point is that there is a need to "lighten up" without loosing focus on task at end.
Need to engage the users and bring in some 'fun'!
I think that ERP vendors need to think on these lines and see what can be the "offering" and in what format - that engages the users, make them adopt new systems, start using the system with minimum trainings and above all be their patrons and evangelizers. In last convergence, this is what Kirill Tatarinov (Corporate vice president, Microsoft Business Solutions) said "We're committed to you to make sure that your people, people in your organization run the software that they love, run the software that they come to work to use every day, and that is our commitment to you." (you can read the entire transcript here).
Steve Jobs also mentioned that Kinect is something that is now revolutionizing entertainment, and he expects it to revolutionize manufacturing and other business scenarios in a very similar fashion. This was followed by a demonstration by Lachlan Cash (see image below) who was manipulating the schedule essentially on the same screen that we normally have on a computer but which had a Kinect controller connected to the PC. He was able to manage / manipulate user interface on the manufacturing floor without touching (thats a boom for folks with dirty gloves) the screen. And i must add that this was not without it controls. the system takes a picture of the person doing the gestures and records it as an audit trail for future. So no loss of control while providing the user a "fun" way of interacting with system.
This is a true sense is not gamification, but it sure is tending to it or making the ERP mould towards this. The next step would be have an "achievement badge" or "virtual currency" or a "virtual scoreboard" to tell who amongst the floor guys actually ensured that "no capacity went unused". The idea of "gamification" would be to define a "common goal" and let everyone compete for achieving it. In the process you make the users "love what the do and do what they love"! The aim would be to thus simulate the organization transaction model into a game with its own rules and interactions and make the whole transaction processing using business applications a "for fun" interaction.
Brain cells working overtime to find answers...
While this is one side of the story, the other side has made me think on several aspects -
- Who will make this change?
- How will this be done?
- What will be the kind of people who will do this even when the business application companies recognize the need (this will need creative people) ?
- When can we see this happen - how soon and to what extent?
- How will the users respond to it?
- Why would the business organizations accept this kind of a change - the drivers and benefits?
- Where do we need to start in the organization - is it in non-financial areas like shop-floor, warehousing or probably in CRM?
- Can this thought process have a game-changing impact on world of business applications?
I would look forward to your thoughts, I am sure there would be many things that will cross your mind on reading this. This to me is an unchartered territory with a huge potential to become a game-changer.