Monday Oct 08, 2012

Gamification at OOW

Last week was Oracle OpenWorld, and for those of you not in tech or downtown San Francisco, that might not mean a whole lot.  However, if you are familiar with it, Oracle OpenWorld is our premier customer event.  This year, more than 50,000 people attended.  It's not a good week to visit San Francisco on vacation because Oracle customers take over all the hotels in town!  It was crazy, but a lot of fun and it's a great opportunity for the Apps UX group to do customer research with a range of customers.  This year, more than 100+ customers and partners took the time to team up with our UX experts and provide feedback on new designs and ideas. Over three days,  UX teams conducted 8  one-on-one user feedback sessions, 4 focus groups and 7 surveys. In addition, we conducted a voice capture activity and were able to collect close to 70 speech samples at the lab and DEMOgrounds.

This was a great opportunity for us to do some testing on some specific gamification concepts with a set of business analysts.  We pulled in 8 folks for a focus group on gamification concepts and whether they thought those would work for their teams.

Working the focus group at OOW

To get ready for this, my designer extraordinaire, Andrea CantĂș, flew into town and we spent almost a week locked in a room together brainstorming design ideas.  We killed a few trees trying to get all of our concepts and other examples together in the process, but in the end, we put together a whole series of examples of how you might gamify an Oracle app (in this case, CRM).  Andrea is a genius for this kind of thing and the comps she created looked great.  Here's a picture of her hard at work! 

We also had the good fortune to have my boss, Laurie Pattison and my usability contractor, Shobana Subramanian there to note take and observe as well.  Here's a few shots of us, hard at work preparing for the day (or checking out something on Laurie's iPhone...)


To start things off, we gave an overview of gamification and I talked about what it's used for.  Then we gave the participants a scenario about our sales person and what we were trying to get her to do. It was a great opportunity to highlight what our business goals might be and why we might want to add game mechanics.  It was also a good way to get them thinking about how that might work for them in their environments and workplaces.

There were some surprises for the day.  We asked how many of them were already familiar with the concept of gamification--only two people had heard of it and only one was using game mechanics in his work.  That's in contrast to a survey we just ran internally with folks in a dev org where almost 50% of about 450 respondents had heard of gamification.  As we discussed the ways game mechanics could be used, it became clear that many of the folks had seen some game mechanics in action but didn't know that's what they were.  We also noticed that the folks in this group felt that if they were trying to sell the concept in their orgs, they wouldn't call it gamification.  That's not a huge surprise to me--they said what we've heard in the past, that gamification does not seem like a serious term for enterprise software.  They said they'd sell it with the goals--as a means to increase behaviors by rewarding users for activities.  It's a funny problem.  The word puts some folks off, but at the same time, I haven't seen another one word description that quite captures the range of things that "gamification" can cover.  My guess is that the more mainstream the term becomes, the more desensitized we'll become to the idea the it's trivializing enterprise software in some way.  Still, it was interesting to note that this group still felt that they would not take this concept to their bosses or teams and call it "gamification".  They focused on the goals, and how we could incentivize desired behaviors with game mechanics.  As I have already stated in other posts, I feel like my org is more receptive to discussing how this is just a more transparent type of usability and user experience methods than talking about gamification.  That's the argument they said they would use.

All in all, it was a good session.  I love getting to talk to customers, present ideas and concepts, and get their feedback and input.  It's the type of thing that really helps drive our designs and keeps us grounded in what our customers need/want.  We're already planning where to get more feedback opportunities in the coming months. 

About

All things gamification, mostly focused on the Enterprise space but occasionally on other issues related to gamification. Written by Erika Noll Webb, Senior Manager User Experience from the Fusion Applications User Experience group. Thoughts are my own. Picked the fish theme because the fish are orange and blue. Go Illini. Twitter @erikanollwebb and @GamifyOracle

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