Solving Enterprise Problems with Gaming

aNewDomain.net – Would the methods used to succeed in massive multiplayer online (MMO) games like World of Warcraft and EVE Online help complete projects and solve problems in today’s enterprise? A lot of people are arguing that it’s inevitable.

Bryan Reeves of the Stanford International School of Business says in Total Engagement,  that the method that team members use in a MMO game such as World of WarCraft can be applied to projects at work. These concepts are being applied now because people, especially young people, have been conditioned with MMO gaming style management. He says that in interviews of people who participate in MMOs find their ability to lead in the real world is improved by the virtual one.

Two Red Dice

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Michael Hugos says in his book Enterprise Games: Using Game Mechanics to Build a Better Business, that the current employer/employee relationship should have been retired with the 20th century. He argues that business moves too fast for the current methods of doing business.

Owen Thomas wrote about ‘gamification’ in Venturebeat more than 2 years ago, speculating it would enter the work environment. Thomas was more cynical, “FarmVille may feel like work — all that harvesting and planting and gift-giving — and yet people keep doing it.

It’s a boss’s dream, in short: Getting people to perform repetitive tasks out of a feeling of obligation in a way that somehow feels rewarding.”

IBM and Siemens say they use games to interact with customers to teach them about products and services. They use avatars and simulation modeling creating a virtual environment to immerse their customers in the product.

Gaming has four traits, says Hugo:

  1. Goals – Employees set the goals and have a personal and financial stake in the outcome
  2. Rules – Employs understand what’s fair, not fair and how to score points
  3. A Feedback System – Everyone is given and learns to read the financial statement.
  4. Voluntary Participation – People get the training they need and can move into other jobs.

Hugo cites an example from his own experience where he worked as an IT director for a company that supplied holiday cups to Starbucks. Starbucks wanted to reduce the number of cups left over after the holiday season. It was typically $600,000 worth of cups, napkins and holiday bags that were donated and written off. Starbucks gave his company 90 days to develop a method to reduce the waste by 50 percent.

His IT department reported that developing a customized system would cost $1.6 million and take 18 months. He turned the problem into a game with the customer (Starbucks) and the cup manufacturer and distribution company as the players. The game was titled “Red Cup System,” where winning meant never running out of red cups at any Starbucks.

“We knew the rules of this game; they were spelled out in the service contract we had with the customer. And participation in this game was entirely voluntary. I couldn’t order anybody to participate; all I could do was show people a process for working together and what the benefits would be. People could decide to do something else though if they didn’t like what they saw.”

Using off the shelf software like FTP servers and scripting software, Starbucks was able to know how many cups were at any location at a given time, as were the other two players  feeding the system with their information.

Could this model work in a call center where there is little movement among jobs? What financial stake could the call center at a cable company have?

Or what common goal would an IT admin share with a partner at a law firm? Typically, the only time they talk is when there is a computer problem. They would never jointly participate on strategy. Should they?

Based in New York, Dino Londis is a senior commentator at aNewDomain.net, IT Pro alum National Lampoon and teamBYTE. Email him at [email protected]

Dino Londis
Based in New York, Dino Londis is an IT veteran, an alum of The National Lampoon and a senior technologist at aNewDomain.net. Contact him at [email protected]
Dino Londis
Dino Londis
Tags: Business