TECH & SCIENCE

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - FRONT PAGE - with CHRIS

IN this brave new world of rapid tech­nol­ogy growth, it’s hard for busi­nesses - es­pe­cially smaller busi­nesses - to keep up with the ever evolv­ing land­scape. One great new rev­o­lu­tion is quickly su­per­seded by an­other, and for a busi­ness look­ing to im­ple­ment a new tech­nol­ogy based strat­egy, it can be bit like the old ar­cade game Frog­ger, where you wait safely on the bank, sec­ond-guess­ing your­self as you try to pick that per­fect log, at the per­fect time, lest you get swept un­der the wa­ter. There are so many apps, so many plat­forms, so many cloud-based ser­vices that ‘rev­o­lu­tionise’ your pro­duc­tiv­ity, but when it comes to ac­tu­ally tai­lor­ing and im­ple­ment­ing any of these prod­ucts into your spe­cific busi­ness, well, that’s largely left up to you to work out. This, along with lack of em­ployee en­gage­ment, are two of the ma­jor rea­sons why 70 per­cent of busi­ness trans­for­ma­tion ef­forts fail, ac­cord­ing to Gartner re­search. A busi­ness needs it’s em­ploy­ees to be ‘on board’ a big change, help­ing to steer and drive it, and the busi­ness needs to fos­ter that en­thu­si­asm. One rel­a­tively new strat­egy to en­gen­der such en­thu­si­asm is the con­cept of ‘gam­i­fi­ca­tion’. Gam­i­fi­ca­tion can come in a va­ri­ety of forms, but the ba­sic premise is dig­i­tal mo­ti­va­tion through a se­ries of videogame like me­chan­ics - rank­ings, scores, lev­els, per­sonal bests, badges. The goal of gam­i­fi­ca­tion is not to turn a work­place into a LAN party, re­plete with PCs loaded with first per­son shoot­ers, cans of Red Bull, and pizza boxes, but it does uti­lize strate­gies well known and per­fected by video game de­vel­op­ers over the last sev­eral decades. Gam­i­fi­ca­tion taps into psy­chol­ogy that drives hu­man en­gage­ment - the drive to com­pete, im­prove, and out-do - and to get in­stantly re­warded while do­ing so. But just as any video game de­vel­oper will can tell you, the suc­cess of video games or gam­i­fy­ing a work­place, comes down to re­search and ex­e­cu­tion. If done well, gam­i­fi­ca­tion can have ma­jor ben­e­fits - fos­ter­ing a fun and en­gag­ing work­place cul­ture with clearly de­fined goals and tar­gets. If done poorly, gam­i­fi­ca­tion can make a busi­ness seem cold, cal­cu­la­tive, and overly surveil­lant. Gam­i­fi­ca­tion tends to work best with busi­ness that have out­puts which are eas­ily mea­sured, such as sales, or units pro­duced per hour, and works less well where per­for­mance or suc­cess are more ar­bi­trar­ily mea­sured, such as jobs in­volv­ing writ­ing, cre­ativ­ity, or coun­sel. Two great uses for gam­i­fi­ca­tion are train­ing and mo­bil­ity. Rather than sim­ply send out an email de­tail­ing new work­place poli­cies or prac­tices, gam­i­fy­ing this process, per­haps via an in­ter­ac­tive quiz, can help an em­ployee learn this new in­for­ma­tion more thor­oughly. More­over, be­cause we in­creas­ingly find our­selves in mo­bile work­places, rather than sta­tion­ary work desks, gam­i­fi­ca­tion can aid in keep­ing all em­ploy­ees in the same, ‘dig­i­tal of­fice space’, with the abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate and col­lab­o­rate with one an­other, rather than be en­tirely sep­a­rated from the work­place when out of the of­fice. On the other hand, two ma­jor po­ten­tial draw­backs can be work­place stress and the de­hu­man­iza­tion fac­tor. Apps tai­lored to con­stantly mea­sure em­ployee per­for­mance can rapidly cause work­place fa­tigue and pos­si­ble re­sent­ment, while hav­ing com­put­ers es­sen­tially su­per­vise em­ploy­ees can make work­places feel clin­i­cal and less em­pa­thetic. The ques­tion then, is find­ing the right bal­ance of gam­i­fi­ca­tion to keep your em­ploy­ees en­gaged, but not stressed or over­whelmed. Ac­tu­ally, this is a ques­tion for al­most all dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion to­day—how much tech to in­fuse, and how much work to keep hu­man.

◆ LEVEL UP: Travers­ing rapid changes in tech­nol­ogy can be a huge chal­lenge for busi­nesses, and keep­ing em­ploy­ees en­gaged in these changes can be equally so. One strat­egy many work­places are im­ple­ment­ing is the con­cept of ‘gam­i­fi­ca­tion’ - driv­ing changes and en­gage­ment through in­ter­ac­tive apps.

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