Gamification Comes to the zEnterprise

You can tell that gamification is coming to the zEnterprise when IBM, BMC, and CA Technologies are exploring gamification at roughly the same time.  It won’t be too long before gamification starts being applied to the zEnterprise tools and applications, probably starting with administrative tools.

Gamification refers to the process of applying gaming software techniques to non-game applications. The objective is to make the software and or business process more engaging and compelling.  Through gamification software should become easier and more intuitive.

Some of the first aspects of gaming to be applied mimic the scoring and rewards aspects of game playing.  For a management that is intent on measurement, gamification should be welcome by opening up a new dimension to metrics. At this point, however, gamification is talked about most frequently in reference to social networking and associated rewards and incentives.  DancingDinosaur’s sister blog, BottomlineIT, initially referenced it here .

IBM researchers looked at gamification in a recent paper here. The researchers noted that the goal of gamification is to incent repeat usage of social networks, increase contributions, and establish user reputations. They rely on incentives in the form of points, badges, and leveling that can help a player advance in status. In the workplace, game-like systems have been employed to collect information about employees and incent contribution within enterprise social software. Gamification also aims to create a sense of playfulness in non-game environments, which creates engagement or at least stickiness.

Based on their study, the researchers concluded that the removal of the points system (key to the incentives) resulted in a significant negative impact on the user activity of the site, and the contribution of content significantly decreased after the deactivation of the points system. This suggests that such extrinsic rewards did influence a segment of the user population to participate more intensely while the point system was in place. No big surprise there.

Gamification is being driven primarily by the smartphone and social networking crowd. Over a decade ago, DancingDinosaur published a book on knowledge management. A major obstacle then was getting knowledge experts to share their knowledge. The only solutions at that time appeared to be either bribe people (rewards, incentives) or threaten to fire them for not sharing. A few copies of that book, apparently, are still available on Amazon. The popularity of social networking along with gamification apparently has resolved this to some extent though social rewards and incentives.

For zEnterprise shops, the real question is: where does gamification add value.  A few places come to mind, such as system operations, administration, and help desk.  With vendors making z management tools increasingly accessible via devices like the iPhones and iPads, gamification could have real impact. DancingDinosaur first wrote about that in 2010 here. R. Wang and Insider Associates just published a survey of the processes gamification impacts. Check out their results here.

Trevor Eddolls, Toolbox.com, noted: Wouldn’t it be great to have software on your smartphone that not only identifies what you’re looking at (Web server or z/Linux LPAR, or whatever) and provides current performance information. And then makes it fun to resolve any problems that might have been identified. Perhaps the only green screens you’ll ever see will mean ‘game over’!

zEnterprise shops are unlikely to build gamification into the tools and processes on their own. Software vendors starting with BMC and CA, however, just might. At that point, gamification will come into the z data center through the tools they acquire. Who knows, maybe gamification will make job scheduling fun?

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4 Responses to “Gamification Comes to the zEnterprise”

  1. inza Says:

    I always thought that game software techniques coud be useful in “serious” business.

    Now that zEnterprise Systems get new breath, they could even be used as cloud servers for massive multiuser interactive games

  2. Thomas Connery Says:

    Reblogged this on My Tech Trek and commented:
    This is the first article I’ve read about gamification but I completely understand the value of extrinsic reward systems and how they can play a role in activity and participation. Social media is really inspiring gamification and it will be interesting to see if CA Technologies brings it to the enterprise.

  3. Matmi (@Matmi) Says:

    Interesting post. I think your right. zEnterprise will soon see a touch of gaming added to its’ tools.

  4. Luke W Says:

    Thanks for sharing the report, hadn’t seen that before. It’s easy to wave off gamification features as appearing tacked-on when they suddenly appear on sites (i’m looking at your Quora) – but i fully concur with the conclusion made by the report, that when you remove them, participation drops. Food for thought.

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