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mario.herger

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The following example proves that there is a lasting damage to the psyche of  my SAP colleagues, when their headquarter is located only a few miles  away from one of Formula One's most famous race tracks: Hockenheim Ring.  Don't get me wrong, SAP Race to 1000 Series is not a game, you  can't control the cars with keystrokes or game controller. But it's the  gamification of sales analytics.

Instead of simply displaying  the number of closed deals for each region for every period as bar or  pie chart (yawn), this app races you through the data. You first need to  buckle up, because the engine-sound revving up blows you out of your  office chair, and then you see for each region a car burning rubber on  the track. At the end of the race the leader board displays the winner  of the period and the overall closed deals compared to the annual goal.

Don't get me wrong, I am a big Edward Tufte-fan and  -evangelist and believe in his pureness of visual display of data. But  have you ever heard of analytics - which is supposed to be the  after-the-action-image - of analytics driving everything before the  action? When I see this visualization, I wanna go back and see my car  outrace my colleagues from the other regions!

See the screenshots:

image
image

 

Want to read more about Gamification in the Enterprise? Then visit my Enterprise-Gamification-Blog with tons of more examples and workshops about gamification.

It's astonishing how your past can haunt you and drag you back into the realm of what you thought you have left long time ago. 14 years ago I had finished my Ph.D. in chemical engineering on a sustainability topic. My thesis' goal had been to measure the different exhaust gas emissions for oil-fueled heating systems in my native country Austria (the one without the kangoroos). For months we visited around the country families, chicken farms, hotels, schools and even the labor union's headquarter to stick our measuring tools into the chimneys, take oil samples, run it on a standardized oil charge, clean the systems, measure again, skip lunch, rush from one appointment to another, just to fall into bed in the evening, exhausted, dirty, smelling oily.

Of course, as the only guy on the team with academic background, I was eyed with deep suspicion, when I first went with the mechanics and engineers to do the measurements. Because – as you must know – they considered me as unnecessary ballast, a theoretician with two left hands, who wouldn't do anything useful except trying to look smart. I never succeeded with latter one anyways, but having been used to get hands-on during my master thesis, swinging the wrenches and screw drivers, getting coated all over my body with different types of flour (that's another story, and no, it's nothing sexual), I had succeeded here to do the same, with the only difference getting constantly soaked in oil. And believe me: getting heating oil off of your body is not an easy thing.

In the end, the results in my thesis "Emission factors for light oil-fueled heating systems in Austria" served as the basis for the state of Austria's emissions and were communicated to the carbon dioxide reduction goals that nations around the globe had committed to in international treaties like the Kyoto or Rio protocols.

To cut a long story short: I had already forgotten about all that, because I had moved into the (much cleaner) software business. And then enters Gamification. And the highest number of examples that I encounter in the first batch of serious apps using gamification came from sustainability. This topic wouldn't let me in peace. It pulls me back into it's realm. 

And the reason for that is that contrary to my naïve believes, the carbon dioxide emissions that nations around the globe emit are higher than ever. And given the increase in the past decade and the urge to do something here, has triggered a series of applications that aim at empowering users and organizations to understand and act on carbon impact, global warming and hot speeches.

SAP Carbon Impact Reward
The first concept for a serious app around sustainability was SAP Carbon Impact Reward, done by a team in Palo Alto. By interviewing more than 100 people, the team focused on exploring people's attitudes and reactions to sustainability, identify key areas of concerns, determine what motivates people to take personal action and examine the language used and needed around sustainability. It was important for the team to focus on what users do, not what they say they care about. If their concerns are environmental degradation, oil consumption, wasteful consumer culture etc., you need to look at the actions they take in their daily life, like recycling, biking, buying organic food.

An important aspect here was how such an application would fit into the daily life of the users and ideally would not require the users to change their lifestyle. Don't focus on the big picture, give them small steps fitting into their behavior. The design principles for such an application should motivate effectively. This can be done by an easy and fast calculation of the financial benefits, how the behavior benefits the next generation (aka their children) and by avoiding a blame game. If the app leverages community influence, like through friends or colleagues in social media and is not authoritative, teaching and finger pointing from above, the better. For all that you need to build trust. Facilitate sharing information and knowledge about sustainable behavior with your friends and let them easily understand goals and their status. The final principle adds rewards to it, promotes competition and sends users on missions (known as actionable but not general or obvious recommendations).

The team mixed all these ingredients and resulted in a variety of scenarios and mini-application. One of them was the Bike at Work Initiative. With a browser based desktop application and a mobile app, a user can view his and his friends achievements using the bike. In addition to bike-related messages - including a video of squirrels chasing each other at the handle-bar of the user's bike – these interactions with friends add to the appeal of the initiative. Earning points, giving feedback, rating each other's "news-snacks", giving useful tips to your friends, seeing calories burned and more interesting and entertaining information motivate the user to participate.

Bike Initiative - Desktop
Bike Initiative - iPhone

Another app designed in that concept was the Vampire Hunter. A bloody matter for the serious challenge of identifying "vampires" - or less prosaic: "products that waste energy" - on the corporate campus. By joining a "vampire hunt" - a kind of scavenger hunt – colleagues walk through a certain area of a building to identify old light bulbs, equipment in standby mode, old surge protectors that keep charging devices even if they are fully charged and other energy suckers. They take pictures with their smartphones and report that to the "vampire headquarter". For each vampire found a total of saved kWh is calculated and awarded to the members. The result leads not only to a reduction in energy consumption, lower costs and potential tax breaks, but also to a networking effect of previously unacquainted colleagues. Communication is improved and a welcome break combined with fun game leads to a useful outcome for everyone.

Vampire Hunter - MobileVampire Hunter - Mobile
Vampire Hunter - MobileVampire Hunter - Mobile
Vampire Hunter - Desktop

Seeds
A similar concept with the focus on the private citizen is Seeds. In this mobile application users earn seeds that they can grow in virtual flower pots, when they do something good for the environment. An activity feed informs you about what good things friends in your social network did, like recycling 20 sheets of paper, that they carpooled today to work, that they exchanged an old bulb with an incandescent bulb etc. Each activity rewards you with seeds, and after a certain number of seeds and taking care of your virtual garden, you achieve status and new levels. Crowd funding larger green initiatives include the installation of solar panels on community buildings, helps you collaborate towards larger goals. And once you reach certain mastery, imagine creating new challenges for the users.

Seeds iPad
Seeds iPhoneSeeds Blackberry

Home Carbon Challenge
This Facebook app challenges users to be more green than their  friends and neighbours. The idea is that a users utility use would be used to measure the green footprint of the user. The app is connected to smart meters to read the consumption. This application can be used on facebook, by following the link to the Home Carbon Challenge.

SAP Home Carbon Challenge

SAP Carbon Exploration
This Facebook app allows users to profile their lifestyle around their carbon emissions. By selecting the appliances in your home and entering data around your lifestyle, users can get an overview of their carbon impact, which at least in my case was pretty astonishing. Who would expect that driving my car adds sevent-something percent of my carbon foot print? Try it for yourself and bend your mind: SAP Carbon Exploration.

SAP Carbon Exploration
SAP Carbon Exploration
SAP Carbon Exploration

Green Soap
If you are an avid online-shopper, then the Facebook app Green Soap is for you. This application adds a carbon value to the cost of shipping, and allows users to compete with friends to see who has the least impact. The app also offers the opportunity to buy carbon offset credits to reduce a user's footprint.But be careful: you might start shopping less online and bike to your next local store, this way also burn some calories, get fitter and in hot shape.

Watch a demo video or use it directly with your friends on Facebook.

 

SAP TwoGo
In 2011 SAP piloted at its German headquarters a mobile application for carpooling, called TwoGo. More than 10,000 employees work in the area between Mannheim, Heidelberg and Karlsruhe, with some colleagues commuting even farther.  Employees enter in the settings their home address and building number of their office location, and whenever they want to share a ride, they indicate the time and location, if they want to ride as passenger or offer a ride as driver. In addition you can set preferences: do you want to share a ride with non-smokers, do you prefer to have no conversation etc. The system then suggest available rides or passengers, which you can accept or not and off you go. If more colleagues share the same ride, each participant earns more points, and other activities will be possible. Think "this week ride with 5 different drivers and earn double points", "answer questions about the work of your fellow riders on that ride", "this weeks Formula 1 Grand Prix on the nearby Hockenheim Ring will attract a lot of traffic, so if you carpool this week, earn a special Formula 1 badge" etc.

Considering the special situation for SAP employees in Germany – pretty everyone has a corporate car, including the gas paid by SAP – some of the benefits for SAP, the employees and the environment become clear. First: SAP immediately is able to see the drop in the gas bill. Several hundreds or even thousands of cars less on the road also means less gas used. And that means less carbon emissions. It also means that SAP needs less garage-space on the corporate campus. And a less tangible but very important effect: colleagues network with each other in a way, that is nearly impossible otherwise. The opportunities to ride with colleagues from unknown departments and learning about their work will have a dramatical impact on understanding products, efforts and opportunities. Also don’t forget that less traffic in the immediate area around SAP means less stress and a better corporate citizenship with the communities.  And last not least maybe we increase employee satisfaction, create friendship opportunities, marriages, babies and … I think I should stop here. You can see that I am a real fan of this application and can't wait to get my hands on that once it is rolled out to the SAP Labs Palo Alto campus. In Germany in it's first two weeks more than 2,600 of my colleagues signed up and shared over 5,600 rides.


SAP TwoGo


SAP Carbon Impact on Demand
The On Demand solution from SAP is already available. It includes many of the concepts mentioned above, including game mechanics to engage users. Watch the videos on SAPCarbonImpact.com.

Useful Links
Here are some more reads about Sustainability @ SAP, with more facts and data:

And if you want to see what more of SAP's concepts, prototypes and products use gamification, then read these blogs:

If you have ever stopped by at the SAP Labs Campus in Palo Alto on Hillview Avenue, you are familiar with the sight of horses neighing and riding along the grassy hills just right outside of the SAP Labs buildings. But if you hear a cacophony of pigs' grunts echoing from the SAP cafeteria, then you know that the SAP Gamification Cup demojam is on.

A few weeks ago, SAP CTO Vishal Sikka and SAP Labs Managing Director Barbara Holzapfel had invited the Palo Alto SAP employees to participate in an internal innovation event. The overarching theme was "gamification". Gamification, which Wikipedia defines as "the use of game play mechanics for non-game applications [..] to encourage users to engage in desired behaviors in connection with the applications", is a current industry trend, that influences business software (and makes a lot of sense). Similar to the social media trend 2 years ago, it is going to stay.

For the SAP Gamification Cup, Vishal and Barbara sent us on a "mission". A mission to understand gamification and to apply it to business software and business processes. For that, SAP employees were invited to submit their ideas, form teams, create software prototypes and show a six-minute demo at the demojam on June 14th to a jury consisting of SAP executives and external experts.

During four weeks, we had kicked off the event with a keynote (followed by a one day workshop) from Amy Jo Kim, had secured the support of the gamification platform providers Badgeville and Bunchball, who taught us about their platforms and gave us access to them for the contestants, had listened to Jeff Gillis from Google talk about gamification efforts at his former company (he had just left Google a few days earlier after 8 years of a great ride with them), had learned from SAP's SVP for User Experience Dan Rosenberg about the importance (and common misconceptions) of this topic and gotten tons of user success stories from Mark Yolton, SVP of SAP's largest and most successful gamified system, the SAP Community Network.

Beside the promise of a lot of fun and pushing the edge of innovation, the contestants motivation to participate was of the purest of all: to help SAP make software with excellent user experience. Ha, I got you! You should have seen your face. Of course that fairly competitive bunch of contestants was only interested in winning the iPad 2 and the free tickets to the upcoming SAP TechEd in Las Vegas.

Around 50 colleagues picked up the gauntlet and started the mission. They formed 12 teams, including colleagues from SAP Research Dresden, SAP Labs Nice, SAP Labs Bangalore and SAP in Walldorf. The participants and lurkers followed the event in the SAP internal Gamification @ SAP group, where they shared ideas, reached out for help or simply bragged.

Gamification @ SAP

To get the audience and the jury excited and pump up the contestants, the whole event was Angry Birds-themed. Each audience member got a little Angry Bird plush toy and the judges and contestants received the luxury version of it: the 8 inch sized Angry Birds. This explains the pig sounds: the audience had to cheer up the contestants by producing the most atrocious pig sounds you can imagine. And they complied. It was disgusting.

At the Gamification Cup DemoJam

The judges, including Amy Jo Kim, Gabe Zichermann and Aaron Marcus as external experts, and SAP executives Guido Schröder (SVP BI), Dan Rosenberg (SVP UX), Barbara Holzapfel (MD SAP Labs Palo Alto), Mark Yolton (SVP SCN) and Kaj van de Loo (SVP Technology Strategy), and the 150 audience members saw a broad range of demos covering education (2x), mobile apps (2x), BI (1x), gamification server concepts (2x), sustainability (1x) and business applications (4x). Two of the demos used 3D rendered UIs (including one rendered with Unity3D), one actually really was a game, and a mixture of game mechanics and player – pardon – "user" types. Most of these applications are not just fun for users, but in fact can bring significant cost savings. Although not everything was polished and consumer ready, the concepts were inspiring. Let's look at the winners and the other submissions.

First place winner team Shared Services Showdown showed how the seemingly boring invoice transaction can be gamified by adding points and badges (the team integrated Bunchball's Nitro-platform), setup daily/monthly challenges and allow collaboration within teams of accounts payable clerks and competition between teams. By encouraging data completeness quality of data increases, rewarding data entry in a timely manner processes can be completed earlier and sharing the track record for each user, transaction experts are exposed and gain more status. An important step towards mastery and autonomy. The system also encouraged colleagues to help each other out and award points for good help, as well win prizes or donate company dollars  (istead of prizes) to their favorite charity.
A Phun Phact:
One of the team members was the only participant of the Gamification Cup to attend Amy Jo Kims for SAP-only and Gabe Zichermann's public one day workshop. It definitely pays to attend their classes.
Game mechanics used:
points (competitive and social points), badges, leaderboards, levels, notifications, rewards

Team Shared Services Showdown

Second place winner team Arena presented a polished "incentive and performance measurement system" for employees. Having your goals and achievements at one place, together with the status of your "friends" and colleagues that you most often ask to a little challenge, and the status of the overall team, is a powerful incentive to engage users and make their achievements transparent and show them their progress. The dashbaord also had included a "market", where achievement points could be exchanged for goods from a shop.
Game mechanics used: points, badges, loeaderboards, virtual curencies, community, progression, quests, contests...

Team Arena

Third place winner team If I ran the company demonstrated how employees can engage with product strategy and product portfolio by following learning paths and unlocking new levels. Every player (employee) assembles a virtual portfolio based on a  certain budget. The goal is to put together the strongest portfolio of products. The success of each product (and therefore of the whole portfolio) including upcoming products will be determined by their real world success, measured by actual revenue as well as external and internal perception. The team also used Bunchball's Nitro-platform to store the points and badges and power the leveles, leaderboards and notifications.
Game mechanics used: points (experience and multiplier points), levels, badges, leaderboards, social leaderboards…

Team If I ran the company

The other teams where not ranked, but there was too much good stuff in there, that I also wanted to share.

Team Discover SAP used a 3D rendered maze to encourage users to learn about SAP products and how SAP customers are using them. You could only master the different levels in the maze – each level becoming more and more challenging – by answering trivia questions about SAP customers and products. The more questions the player answered correctly, the more clues were given about the maze. Phunny Phact was that the son of one of the developers had acquired the top score in the game and his father couldn't beat him. The 8-year old knew more about SAP customers and products than his father, who is a long time SAP employee. The team also used Bunchball's  Nitro-platform.
Game mechanics used: points, levels, unlocking clues, leaderboard…

Team Discover SAP

Team ERP Gamification took the manufacturing process to a new level by adding a 3D interface. Think CityVille from Zynga transformed to plants, office buildings, roads etc. overlaid with business transactions and dashboards. By navigating the plants, vendors locations and customers in a 3D world with HUDs (heads-up-display) in such a holistic view, many younger players will be way better understand and navigate the manufacturing process.
Game mechanics used: virtual reality, points, avatar, leaderboard, currency…

Team ERP Gamification

Team CustomerService++ shone light on customer service. By applying a point system to customer tickets and the process behind solving customer problems, faster and more effective responses were generated. The approach went so far allowing customers to participate in the "game". Think Quora, where you also learn how to ask questions. Sometimes the back and forth is a result on the way questions are asked, but also how polite and precise the answers were (from both sides). Badgeville's Dynamic Game Engine (DGE) helped to make them gamify the app.
Game mechanics used: points, feedback, rating…

Team TwoGo introduced the gamification for commuter car pooling in a corporation. Generally, sustainability seems to be an ideal candidate for gamification, and this example demonstrated that perfectly. By car pooling, using energy efficient vehicles or other alternatives for commutes, users earn points and badges (this team used Badgeville's DGE). The more colleagues share a ride, the more points for everyone. By booking a car, you can also specify or see, if coffee is allowed, people take calls, what music taste the driver has (for a good match) or if people in this car prefer to talk or sit silent. This application is currently been tested at SAP in Walldorf.
Game mechanics used: points, badges, status, feedback…

Team TwoGo

Team TwoGo

Team Mobile Enterprise Check In translated the Foursquare and GetGlue approach to a bucket list and integrated that with SAP Streamworks. You can now check in to your tasks and milestones and earn points (in that specific case stored on the Badgeville platform). By completing the tasks you could progress to the next level. An interesting solution for people with time management problems like myself.
Game mechanics used: badges, points, narrative, feedback, communication, levels…

Team Mobile Enterprise Check In

Team Banzai Pipeline took the sales funnel and through simulation optimized the lead to deal process. Sales Reps advance deals through the pipeline by moving chips on a virtual gameboard, and can view their pipeline performance using rich visualization, in a browser or on a mobile device. This demo got a little scrutiny by the judges, as it seemed to be not gamified at all. But surprise: lead dashboards used game mechanics all the time, we just didn’t know that it registers under that name. Generally is there a huge opportunity for BI related applications with gamification. As an old BI person, I am especially excited about that.
Game mechanics used: progress bars, simulation, points…

Team Banzai Pipeline

That explains also my enthusiasm about Team Data Scrubbers: everyone who had to merge master data from multiple sources and cleanse them afterward, knows how painful and boring, and really demanding and time consuming this process is. That's what the this team tackled: they made a game out of it by helping you reach data package cleansing completeness, and have users rate the quality of the master data. If you are a good "data scrubber" and moved up the ranks from novice to master, you got the power to create your own data packages that you could throw out as "missions". If you can't find inventory because it's registered under 5 different names and start restocking, you know that you will have millions in your inventory that you don't know that you have. The potential savings with this app go in the millions. And that's just the inventory. This team used Badgeville's DGE for the gamification approach.
Game mechanics used: continuous feedback, levels of complexity for different user types, leaderboards, feedback, status… 

Data Cleansing Packages

Team DSD+Team DSD+ (Direct Store Delivery) helps sales reps to visit their customers in a more effective way with this mobile app. Drivers can download the locations for each customers and check in once they reached their destinations. It helps to be in time and increase satisfaction with customers. By earning points through each check in, sales reps will unlock new customers with the potential to make more sales. With this app is new hires can quickly onboard and become productive, while masters are encouraged to be more effective and go the extra-mile, and experts finally can create new tasks and explore new opportunities.
Game mechanics used: points, leaderboard, levels, social…

 

The probably most complex scenario came from Team Nice (read Nice as in the city on the south of France). The French colleagues suggested an integrated solution, where software used in corporations (Outlook, Jive, ABAP, DevStudio, CRM…) track their users' activities in a central system. From that system you pull the information into leaderboards, display experts like on the SCN etc. A combination with the approach from 2nd place winner Team Arena is a natural.

Team Nice

That scenario also shows the gap in SAP's product portfolio. SAP Community Network has shown the value of recording user achievements and exposing them publicly. Take that experience and create an aggregator, or maybe use HANA?

After three hours of intensive demojam, everybody was exhausted but excited. A lot of inspiration came from this innovation event. While it is clear that the colleagues at SAP are at the beginning with grasping the concept gamification, it was an important step. Feedback from participants and audience members resonated that this was an eye-opener and they now believe in the power of it.

What are the first key takeaways?

  1. Gamification is not an option, it's a must. Productivity increases, higher data quality, timeliness of data availability, raised happiness levels of employees and a new generation of employees raised with videogames is going to expect and demand gamified applications that give them constant and immediate feedback, makes clear how they can become better in their work, help or compete with others etc.
  2. Not all processes and applications can be saved by gamifying them. If they are ******, gamification will make them shittier.
  3. Some processes and application don't make sense to be gamified. They should be automated.
  4. A gamification/achievement/reputation/.. or however-you-want-to-call-it platform is a core piece in the landscape and needs to be added to the technology stack.
  5. We just scratched the surface of gamification. We have a long way to go and understand the subtle details.
  6. Gamified applications need to change over time. Change in goals, number of (experienced) users, new twists and so on may require to add and exchange the approach.
  7. We need game-designers and similar professions in the corporate world.
  8. Gamified systems need to be monitored and moderated like it's done with communities.

What will happen next? The followup has started with the teams pitching their demos to their colleagues, and multiple teams already contacted the contestants to brainstorm with them their concepts on other business applications. This years InnoJam at SAP TechEd in Las Vegas has Gamification as overarching theme, so if you are interested in the topic you definitely should attend. The three first teams will be at the Innojam to present their demos live to the participants and help and consult as experts. There will be a larger program around gamification, but I cannot yet reveil more.

Now we feel good. Not only do we now have a pool of SAP folks convinced and and a first understanding of gamification, but those folks are now also being able to impress their friends, kids and spouses with realistic sounding pig sounds. With that mission we definitely made the world better. OINK!

The game is on! The SAP Gamification Cup at SAP Labs in Palo Alto started yesterday. CTO Vishal Sikka and SAP Labs Palo Alto managing director Barbara Holzapfel invited 2,000 employees on the campus for an opportunity to unleash their innovative spirit, collaboration, and creativity in the area of user experience and user engagement: The SAP Gamification Cup.

In the next weeks employees will form teams and focus on creating software prototypes that reflect a gamification approach and outcome. How can we make the travel expense system more engaging and fun, how the leave request, how can we nudge people to be more compliant with time reporting, or how can we onboard them slowly on complex software and not frustrate them? Or are there ways to make the UI of manufacturing processes way more gameful with avatars or 3D worlds like FarmVille or SimCity? And what about racking users achievements and better identifying experts and the best users like we do on the SAP Developer Network?

These and many other challenges will be the topics that the teams will tackle and many more that we are not yet aware of. I am especially proud that we have two gamification platform providers – Badgeville and Bunchball – offering their platforms so that our teams can enrich SAP software with game mechanics. The event will also be accompanied by multiple training session around gamification.

As Vishal and Barbara stated in their SAP Gamification Cup announcement

"We’re in a new era of enterprise software, one where customers are increasingly considering the usability, design and overall experience in their decision making about whether to purchase SAP software. If SAP is to thrive, we need to revolutionize customers’ experience with our software."

Customers and partners are looking to gamification for inspiration, that's why it is critical that SAP understands how and where in the development of our software gamification can best be applied. SAP is dedicated in leading the industry by exploring gamification and bringing innovation to customers.

The SAP Gamification Cup will culminate in a DemoJam on June 14th. Each team will have 6 minutes to demo their solution and winners will be selected by a jury of external experts (including a leading expert Gabe Zichermann from Gamification.co) and SAP executives. The winners will go to SAP TechEd in Las Vegas, where the SAP Innojam this year will have gamification as a topic. 

Follow the event on SDN, Twitter, Youtube and other channels to get a better understanding of where the word of business software is heading to.

Read more about Gamification and SAP in these blogs:

The beloved characters from the Dilbert-comicstrips day after day nail the stark difference of what corporations want you to believe the corporate life is, and of what the corporate life really is like. Wally keeps slacking and still stays on the payroll. No matter what Alice and Dilbert are doing, they never get rewarded and end up at the loosing end. And the pointy-haired boss hires Dogbert and Catbert as consultants to put everyone at the edge and they usually win (with hilarious logic).

Dilbert-inventor Scott Adams draws inspiration from managers, who keep telling us that the talents and skills of employees are important and that hard working employees will be promoted and rewarded. What employees experience is quite different: not good work or expertise is rewarded, but kissing up to the right people, being well connected but also a good town crier of your "achievements". And this is true for even the most highly regarded corporations. Instead of a meritocracy we live in a "kiss-upocracy".

I have been working for quite some while in large corporations, on the lowest end of the food chain up to management and noticed the following: people who were the best and most reliable contributors were often compensated the lowest in their teams. While on the other hand the duds got the most money and bonuses. And that is startling and everybody has his or her own stories to confirm that. That's why Scott Adams is able to keep hitting the nail at the right spot. The question is: why is this so?

A big lie that the corporate world succumbs to without resistance is the believe that they are measuring successfully the goals and achievements. They say and probably also think that the free-market business world is the fairest of systems in measuring the true value of resources, including human resources. Frankly, that's absolute bullshit. Business software vendors contribute to that by selling promises that their software packages can measure and provide all KPIs for successfully running a corporation. Truth is that only a limited number of KPIs are used, implemented, and often enough represent a time-delayed and skewered picture of the reality. Worst is that these available measures do in most cases not correspond with or support officially communicated goals of the organization. Unofficial goals, hidden agendas and dynamic environments that change goals on a frequent basis, as well as other factors, take the upper hand. And result in tons of material for more Dilbert-strips.

Organizations in general tend to be bad in measuring who their best employees are. Games on the contrary tell you precisely who the best gamers are. With games, everybody knows who the best gamers are. With games, you know how you yourself can become better and what the rules and the paths are to join the roster of successful gamers. Nobody tells a gamer only once a year in a performance feedback meeting how well he/she fared. The feedback is immediate. And it is a feedback that is implicit and explicit. It comes from the system and from other gamers, it's designed into the game as well as encourages others to express feedback. Successful gamers are being promoted to the next level, to a guild leader and receive status badges and rewards. Players in World of Warcraft know exactly what a level 70 priest had to do and achieve in order to come to such a position. And that gives a level 70 priest the right street-cred from the other players.

Compare that to the corporate world. Do you know what a Senior Vice President in your organization had to do to be promoted to that position? Do you know, how and when you can get promoted? Do you know, how you can become better in your job and what the path is? Do you get immediate feedback from any of the software systems or colleagues that you work with? And even if, do you think the feedback is helpful, honest, accurate and timely? And is the feedback really comprehensive? Was it recognized that you spent 2 hours with the client on the phone although it is not reflected in your KPIs? That you spent 5 hours preparing for the meeting with the customers, the same preparation that helped you to support another team and achieve their goals, but you were measured only on your team's own KPIs? Does your senior vice president deserve the street-cred that comes with the title?

And finally: how do you find an expert in your organization on a specific topic? Can you look it up in a system with the latest status of this persons expertise or is the information way outdated and do you have to ask around to maybe find the right person? And here is where Gamification comes into the picture.

While the focus of most of the recent wave of gamification articles rested on the engagement and empowerment of users, how game mechanics can promote certain desired behavior in relatively isolated applications, how they make interaction with the system more fun, they miss the potential rupture that the introduction of a gamification layer into the business world can have. If the corporate world succeeds in integrating all their internal and external analytical, transactional, collaboration, communication, document, you-name-it systems with a central gamification platform, you introduce an objective and transparent 360 degree view of your employees, what they do and how they fare. Gamification currently "undersells" itself as just a "user experience paradigm" with resulting behavioral change and some fun.

We've been selling and praising integration and full 360 degree views of the business world with integrating systems for most of the time, but with the focus on master- and transactional data of non-HR related data mostly. And left out some of the most crucial data for an organizations success. Namely what employees are doing and how successful they are with that.

An integrated, gamified system landscape like this would quickly become the largest data aggregator inside an organization. Let's look at a system that you already know: the SAP Community Network, the very system that you right now read this article. You get points by contributing to this platform by writing articles and blogs. You get points by answering questions asked by other SCN users. You also receive badges, that display your status (SAP mentor, gold contributor, SAP employee etc.). You receive comments and hits for good contributions. All these game mechanics of points, badges, hits and comments form your online-reputation. It's absolutely transparent for all members where your expertise is through this track record. That is a way better indicator of your potential value for the hiring or project manager, who's going to assemble a team, than your otherwise hopefully very polished and impressive looking resume.

Let's introduce the SCN approach – which is actually used in games like World of Warcraft - to the corporate world and extend it to all areas. Call and support centers are already using a combination of metrics to give goals and evaluate the work of the call center agents. A well designed mix of KPIs that encourage cost-effective volume handling with user satisfaction, team work and others that is constantly fine-tuned and adapted to reflect changing goals and requirements that do not endanger the companies success and reputation. A similar mix is available for sales representatives. These probably are today the best mined areas for putting out hard numbers to achieve goals.

It's less common to have hard numbers of soft goals casted into measurable KPIs for other areas. There have been good excuses used for such soft targets like writing white papers (how do you measure their quality, success, relevance etc.). Or how do you measure good coding (lines of code, how often it is reused, performance, elegance…)? And here I think we can do way better than we do right now. In the business world we pride ourselves with being able to steer corporations with all these numbers, but if the measurement becomes challenging, we shy away and do a rules of thumb approach. The consequences are that we loose the capability of really measuring good work and good people. We then promote the wrong people and value work that's contradictory to the overall goals and benefits of an organization or even society. Most prominently we have seen that with the banking industry in the past years. Hence the persistence of the kiss-upocracy and the ongoing success of Dilbert-comicstrips.

If we (the corporate world) want to take ourselves serious with what we believe in and are telling everyone, we need to borrow from the game world. Make achievements and status really measurable, lay out the rules and make all of them transparent for everyone in the corporation. Make sure to constantly monitor the "game" and fine-tune, if necessary. And it will be necessary. HR and management will have to turn more into a game-designer and game-leader role that keep adjusting the rules and reward system and create new "missions".
Sure, the real world is inherently more complex and with many areas of incomplete information than games. But that's not an excuse to try. We are getting paid for it and we brag with our sophistication and ability to control many things.

A central gamification platform inside a corporation (just imagine SAP with 50,000 employees being represented there) or as an external platform, where you can take your achievements from one to the other organization would represent the next aggregator. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn are aggregators that represent an image of you that you want to see of yourself. I know there are many problems with the way people screw up there. But to quite some extent, you can have your public image under control. And that's often misleading for others (not that this is bad) who don't your real sides, but need to know them for work- or otherwise related purposes ("is this person really a great Java-developer?"). When an open platform – like we can already see with some properties like the buyer-seller of services platform oDesk.com – collects your "real" skills and achievements and lets browse it , potential employers and project owners have a more realistic picture of your track record.

It's true that there are many obstacles and things we don't know. What about legal restrictions, the willingness of people to share this information, the feasibility of such a daunting aggregator etc.? Would this usage of a gamification platform (and maybe we should rename it) allow micromanagement and prevent many positive intentions of gamification?Yes, certainly, but the positives might outweigh them.*)

Of course want to keep all the positive intentions that started the gamification trend in gamification. But we need to realize that there is way more and a very disruptive effect possible that in the end will launch us on the next level of business success and make - at least the corporate - world better and fairer.

At the end a personal summary: I still want Dilbert to have some materials. Let's not make the world too perfect ;-)

----

*) The corporate world encountered similar arguments 10-15 years ago with the raise of data warehouses, who became the corporate data aggregators at this time. Transparency and accessibility of data that was formerly guarded jealously by the owners led to disruptions. Nobody doubts the usefulness of such an aggregator today. With other words: I don't buy these arguments.

Mario Herger

Innovation Steampunks

Posted by Mario Herger Feb 23, 2011

In 2011 I launched the "Innovation Steampunks". Why you haven't heard about it? Because it's currently an SAP-internal, virtual group where SAP employees can join innovative ideas. These ideas - we call them "punk-projects" – can be tossed into the forum by any colleague – we call these folks "steampunks" - independent from what organization or on what level of the internal food chain they are. These punk-projects don't necessarily need to be relevant to SAP, our products or strategy. The only criteria is that the idea-originator and other steampunks find it worth spending their time on it. And faster than not, ideas that seemed totally unrelated to SAP in the past suddenly wound up in the center of our strategy.

How does that work?

The ideas tossed into the pit are discussed by the steampunks, and this in an honest and constructive way. If there is a whiner, naysayer, or know-it-all putting down the idea, we don't want him or her. We tell them to stay away.

Once we have a good discussion going on, but not yet a clear vision or concept, we invite to a "punkstorm". That is a virtual brainstorming session to figure out some or the best use-cases. We need them so that we finally can create a prototype and get our hands dirty. "Give us some piece so that we can write code!" And during this punkstorm we go crazy. No rules apply, except that punks must not be hurt or killed.


Innovation Steampunk

After a punkstorm and the subsequent writeup of the outcome, a steampunk – typically the colleague who tossed the idea into the pit – does a "punk-project-pitch". Think elevator pitch for venture capitalists, but in our case more with a Mad Max-element. This is a 15 minutes pitch (yes, our elevators serve very tall buildings) to give everybody an overview of the concept, followed by a 45 minutes discussion.  At the end of the pitch, we ask steampunks to sign up for the ride. We staff the punk-project and officially launch it.

Every couple of months we organize an Innovation Steampunk-Ball. An event, where steampunks present their launched punk-projects, the progress and where we cheer for them.

Sounds cool so far? You haven't heard about the coolest punk-fact yet: the Innovation Steampunk thing is totally sooo not approved. None of the steampunks has the official go from their management or units. There is no official purchase order or cost-center to book the time. These projects do not exist. Look at the light -- FLASH!

Why do we do it?

These passionate underground-mammals don't ask for approval. They create facts and a following first. Because our believe is that we do not have a lack of innovation at SAP, but a lack of getting the cool and needed stuff out on the market. And many ideas that folded in the past should have made it. And nobody can explain where and why exactly ideas fizzle and die. What are the reasons for a broken process? We have some suspicions but don'tknow for sure: no focus, cumbersome processes, the "thinking-you-are-Steve Jobs-syndrom", fear of taking risk? Who knows what. But we don't let that get into our way anymore.

The Innovation Steampunk group circumvents these obstacles in the SAP innovation process - or simply ram and turn them into fish food - by strategically ignoring certain internal rules, by not waiting for approval and by just kicking ***. Disruptive innovation cannot happened without stepping on somebody's toes. Steampunks also share their experience with successful and failed innovation examples and find best-practices for getting innovation out. Of course not all innovation will make it, that's why we celebrate failure as well. Failure is welcome and we can only learn from that. We even plan to award the most spectacular failure of a punk-project every year. No risk, no fun.

Once you have a punk-project that is ready to be tested and used, we distribute and show it. The process from the idea-toss to the final product is totally transparent, SAP employees can follow all steps in the group. And when a punk-project creates a following of several hundred SAP-internal users or multiple customers wanting to toss money at us to get it, it'll become easier for decision makers to take the following and facts into account, see the demand and get it into the portfolio and on the price-list. We help them get rid of uncertainty and risk by not just bringing them a ready product, but also a customer- and a user-base.

How many steampunks are there so far? More than 200.
What punk-projects are we working on? Kinect, Lively, Swarm intelligence, Holodeck, SMAP Tool and other mind-blowing sh@#$&t.
Not an SAP employee but still want to become a steampunk? Punk me in the comments.

Keep punking!

Mario

I am aware that some people might be offended or steamed up by the repeated use of the word 'Punk'. I want to apologize for that. Punk!

Gamification or How to win 1 billion Users until 2015

Gamification is a trend that is finally reaching the enterprise. Understanding game mechanics and dynamics and how they engage and empower users and give them a sense of control and productivity is something that must not be left to games. Players in the most successful massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft (WoW) have spent more than 50 billion hours of play since the start of this game in 2004. They have created 250.000 articles in the WoW-Wiki, which is the second largest wiki, only topped by Wikipedia. On average each WoW-player spends 17-21 hours per week playing WoW. If you look at Halo, Farmville, Mafiawars and many other popular online games, you will find the same engagement, hard work and dedication to these games.

Now what exactly makes players so engaged? What makes them work so hard? And how can we leverage this for the real world, like businesses, charities, communities? This has started to puzzle and catch the interest of experts. With a rising number of employees who have grown up with video games, the average age of video gamers being at 33 and the percentage of women playing video games at +40%, the ground for gamifying business software has been prepared. And in fact many gamers are craving to take their time and work from the virtual world to the real world.

That's where we have a chance to engage with our users. And this is why I want to give you a first overview of what we are doing around this topic. I currently see examples covering three areas: the first area are business processes, the second area are training and education, the third area is from HR who wants to onboard new employees as quickly as possible. In this blog I will mainly deal with the first type – gamifying business applications.

Examples

SAP Community Networks

The most prominent example of where we use gamification is the SCN. You put up good blogs and articles, answered questions in the forums and edited Wiki pages. This way you earn points and badges that help you raise in your status and increase your reputation. I don’t have to explain much around that, because many of you have worked hard to earn these points. You collaborate by helping and working on topics together, but you also compete by being top contributor in your topic. Because of your status, you've had opportunities to get first hand access to information as SDN mentor, get more projects or have a better position to discuss a salary raise. Hiring managers look at your points. If your CV list SDN points, you land on top of the list of candidates. Participating on the SCN and getting immediate feedback through points, comments, badges and views feels not only empowering, but has a real world impact for you. You are not just an virtual guild master, but a real world SCN expert.

The SCN is also a good example to introduce you to a couple of game mechanics. Points (as "points points", but also views of your articles/blogs), leaderboards (list of top contributors, but also exposure of you article on the main SDN page), status (mentor badge, gold/silver/bronze medal), social interaction (discussions, meetups).

Lead-in-One

The next example does not use any of the above mentioned game mechanics, but a different UI. The iPad app is called Lead-in-One and allows a sales manager to assign leads to sales reps by playing a golf game. Instead of fumbling with combo-boxes to assign them you simply drag a golf ball (the lead) onto a golf-hole (the sales rep). Tapping on a little flag on the golf-ball (the lead) you can see detailed information about this lead on a card.

This approach seems radical from a UI-perspective, but it could be effective from two sides: this UI allows actually faster interaction on the iPad than the combo-boxes and it validates the SOA-readiness of our platform. If we cannot connect such a gamified visual UI, we verify our statement that we are SOA.

SAP Future Factory

Another example that uses a very different UI to better visualize a process is from Manufacturing. A 3D rendering of the SAP Future Factory displays machines based on their energy consumption (deployed on web browser, iPad, iPhone, ...). Energy consumption is retrieved live from smart meters via middleware for device integration. An avatar helps the user to walk through the factory and have all information live.

SAP Future Factory

Vampire Hunter

A similar topic is approached from a different angle in the application Vampire Hunter. Find the energy suckers in your facility. A blood red and creepy design of the screen highlights the floor plan of your office building and shows the energy consumption of each room. Once you find the blood sucker, you can get him.

Vampire Hunter

Seeds

Another mobile app rewards employees to live sustainable by awarding seeds (=points) which you can watch grow in a flower pot. The longer you "play", the larger the plant grows and the more of them you have. This concept extends SAP's Carbon impact solution. For SAP's customers, it complements the collection of data (from  employees) for tracking and analysis purposes (with data aggrgated and  reported in solutions such as Carbon Impact), while encouraging broad  employee participation and proactive idea sharing. It's basically an SAP version of Farmville.

Tipp' die Opportunity

An example that lets sales reps bet on the chance that an opportunity turns into a deal is "Tipp' die Opportunity" ("Click the Opportunity"), a concept developed in a thesis. This highly visual example gives not only feedback by applying the collective wisdom of the sales department, but also uses the competitive spirit that is extremely common with sales people.

Tipp die Opportunity

ERPSim

These examples all covered business processes. The next example is a simulation and lets players simulate a business with ERPSim. Its'not really a gamification example, but a game playing a business process.

Summary

These examples are either productive (SCN) or prototypes for an approach to gamify business application. Gamification shall help to empower users and engage them more with the software. While many of the examples focus on very small aspects of a business process, there is a huge potential in making business software better. The next blogs will make suggestions for larger business processes.

Training game

Inside SAP I am running a couple of internal communities around topics like iPhone/iPad and Android development, as well as Gamification and Innovation Steampunk. I will start talking more about these development communities (which now account for well over 1,000 members) on the SDN, to give you an insight in the awe-inspiring things we are doing.
The first blog originates from the Gamification group with over 100 members. Spinned off from the mobile communities, when colleagues expressed their concern that we'd screw the bling of apps on mobile devices like the iPad, we started looking at other industries like the videogame industry to understand what approaches , design principles, game mechanics and other things they use to make users engaged and happy with their games. And the big topic is 'gamification'. There are already some interesting pieces and demos available, not least the SDN itself, which uses a gaming element: points and badges.
More about that and the other communities and their awe-inspiring topics will follow in the next couple of weeks.

Level 1

The first  conference around Gamification titled Gamification  Summit 2011 took place this week in San Francisco. It was organized  by Gabe Zichermann and his organization Gamification.co (yes, co without m) in a nice UCSF location and was totally sold out.  375 tickets for US$695 just flew out the shelves like angry birds on  sling shots to hit the pigs.

For those of you who haven't heard yet about  gamification: that doesn't mean to make an egoshooter out of a business  app, but how we can make the experience of users with our UIs more  enjoyable, engaging, rewarding, and in the end more effective (read also  the definition in Wikipedia).

Gabe lined  up a whole roster of great speakers, interesting topics and panels.  Though none of them rotated around enterprise software – mental note:  help Gabe to staff his next event with enterprise people -  the talks  were really inspiring and mindblowing.

Level 2

To say  something about all of the speeches, would be like figuring out that you  discovered all levels and secrets of WoW – and who'd want that? Because  that would mean the end of the game for me. So I will focus on those  speeches that I found most interesting for me.

Videogamer

After Wanda Meloni, who gave an  analysts insight into the trends  and statistics of this fast growing industry topic, Gabe brought  us to a common baseline by defining gamification and giving us an  insight in the history of it.

Then Jane McGonigal from the Institute  of the Future (isn't that an awesome name for your employer?) and  she set the mood for the whole conference. Not only did she start a  phone game with the whole audience (I just say so much that during the  whole conference the folks yelled "Amen!"), but she really inspired  people and lifted the mood. She spoke about Eustress (=positive stress),  showed hilarious pictures of faces of videogamers and how they are in  the zone, spoke about that games don't make life easier, but that games  are putting up obstacles to achieve a goal, compared the terms  'gamification' (looks like a game) vs. 'gameful'  (feels like a game), mentioned that cooperative games outratio in popularity competitive games by a factor of 3:1 and that what's common for people  indulged in games is the urgend optimism, the social fabric, the  blissful productivity and the epic meaning. She calls those people  'super empowered hopeful individuals' or SEHIs.
If you want to know  more, she just published a book "Reality  is broken". You can also watch one of her former speeches on TED: Gaming  can make a better world (18 minutes, you just have to love her for  her passion and inspiring speech).

Level 3

The afternoon  then started off with a panel about the best and worst of gamification.  What was a recurring theme of the conference was the overly reliance on  point- and bagde-systems and believing that this is the only thing to do  to make your audience more engaged. It is not. Once you deploy a  gamified platform, you need to monitor, encourage, police, fine-tune  etc. as well as deploy more measures and cleverer ways to engage your  community. And without core content, no gamification will help at all.

Neal  Freeland from Microsoft then spoke about Bing and  the long way that they went and how they use gamification to attract  more users. A case study about the Hiphoppers Jay-Z book launch -part  memoires, part lyrics - that was gamified with a really big scavenger  hunt using Bing, presented by Demetri Detsaridis from Area/Code really was mindblowing. Those guys had some crazy ideas (and money to  blow). But it seemed like total fun and the target audience really went  into that game.

Level 4

The last and in the first moment  totally boring sounding speech titled "The Elephant in the Room:  Managing Legal Risk in Gamification & Virtual Economies", basically  James Gatto's take on the legal risks of gamification in the US turned  out to be really interesting. Not least because James – who I think is a  lawyer, but has the street cred of leading an Open Source team and  development lead in video games – can speak the gamification and nerd  lingo. Some of these risks are not hitting Second Life (virtual goods  and monetization), IP problems, Facebook-lawsuits etc. show us that this  hits closer to home than we want to realize. And as a company  originating from Germany, we can also add the legal risks of internal  gamification with labor laws.

Level 5

During the sessions I  had the chance to talk to some of the sponsors, like gamification  platform providers like bunchball, badgeville or bigdoor,  as well as became the joke when I walked into a conversation of the  analyst Wanda Meloni and SAP consultant Joshua Greenbaum, introducing me  as SAP employee. Right that moment they had discussed that SAP should  look into this. And here I was.
I also met SAP colleague Reuven  Gorsht from the demo team, who has inspired us with his gamified and  awesome iPad apps (see his posts in this group and the iPhone/iPad group).

And  also – as heads up- Gabe Zichermann whispered in my ears that he is  planning to organize this year a gamification event for the enterprise. I  will keep you updated on that one, and we definitely should support  Gabe to get this going. I think we will be able to share some of our  first insights and this approach could have a real impact on reaching  our strategic goal for 2015: 1bn users…

Game Over. Want to play  again?

You got your Mac, you got your iPhone and iPad, and you installed XCode. So let's build the one-million-dollar app, right? No, hold a second. Because before you even write your first line of code, have your users test your app.

You have no Mac, you have no iPhone or iPad? But you have a great idea for an app? Then let's have your users test your idea.

Am I making fun of you? No, because before you write code and an give your users a running app, you can create astonishingly real looking mockups of your app, that don't feel like a mockup. And that you can give users to test and give feedback. They help you to avoid a miserable failure because of all the time and money spent for coding an app that misses your target audiences' needs.

The following tools will help you - developer, solution manager, guy with a great idea - build a life-like looking prototype of your app and accelerate development of your future killer app. Depending on what app you are eyeing, these tools are for you.

Mockapp

This tool allows you to bring your iPhone mockup on your iPhone. Sufficient to get a good first impression for the layout, navigation through links and look & feel. Sure you can't have everything (animation), but hey, that's what's your task when finally programming the app

Stencil kits

Stencil kits are collections of common graphical elements like buttons, headers, sliders, dials etc. that you find in a variety of iPhone/iPad apps. Websites like Graffletopia offer a growing number iPhone and iPad templates for download, Yahoo! besides the templates also design tools to create your own stencils. It just doesn't give your prototype the real feeling of your future app, you will use those stencils later in your life app.

Tools & How-tos

Amir Khella provides a treasure trove of tools and how-tos for creating interactive iPhone or iPad mockups in 30(!) minutes. Just watch his videos and you'll be amazed how easy it is.

Simulators

While Apple's iPhone/iPad SDK Xcode comes with simulators for both the iPhone and iPad, many folks who want to develop apps might not own Apple hardware. The still can run simulators that are available for PC. MobiOne for the iPhone, iPadgeek for the - surprise - iPad and Adobe AIR based simulators are available.

Screen and video capture

As Etay Gafni, former SAP colleague and now founder and CEO of BrightAct, said "Nobody wants to write specs and even fewer people want to read them", give the people a screen shot or even better a video to see what your app does or should do. Be it that you as solution manager or guy with a great idea want to tell your developers how the app should be or if you as developer want to show your customer what your app does, make a video. The simple but free SimCap from Apple or the not free but with all bells and whistles iShow U HD screen capture tools will help you with that.

DemoRight

If you don't just want to show your users a video of your future app, but give them an opportunity to navigate through the app on their webbrowser and enter feedback about each screen directly into the system (anonymously or with full disclosure), then DemoRight from BrightAct is the right tool for you. Etay's web based tool might become the must have dev tool for each person behind an app. Build it there, test it there, show it off there. And only if your app is warmly welcome by your test users on DemoRight, then don't waste anymore time, go ahead, program it and laugh all the way to the bank. 

GameSalad

What if your app shall be a game but you are a terrible programmer? There is a solution for that. Gamesalad is a game generator that allows you to choose a game type, import your own graphics and enter your rules. The result is a game created without you having to enter a single line of code. How cool is that?

More tools

We keep an updated list of tools in our SAP Mobile wiki. Keep checking it out.

3.27Mio iPads, 8,2Mio iPhones. That’s how many devices Apple sold during the second quarter in 2010. We at SAP see similar growth rates. Just within three weeks in June the number of iPads distributed by our own IT nearly doubled, topped only by iPhones, which quadrupled.
Within a few weeks we had hundreds of SAP colleagues joining an internal development community, because everybody wants to learn and develop apps. Many of them mentioned that they own one or multiple Apple devices privately and now want to get into development.

If you are as enthusiastic and passionate about those devices as we are and believe in that Why the iPad will kill the laptop, then we have something for you: a new community for iPad and iPhone developers.
I started seeding the iPhone/iPad wiki with materials that we collected in the past few weeks and will continue to do so. I encourage you to share your experiences and material, if you can help me getting more stuff up there, I’d really appreciate. Have you developed cool iPad/iPhone apps? Perhaps even integrated in your business environment? Any tipps or tricks that helped you circumvent restrictions or missing functionality?

Let us know about it. We’d all appreciate.

Here are questions, that you might perhaps answer right away:
  • How many iPhones and iPads are in use in your company?
  • How would you see the interest from your colleagues in these devices?
  • Is your organization working on a mobile strategy, like switching all sales reps to iPads?
  • Do you privately own an Apple device?
Apple just announced that they sold 3 million iPads in the first three months. At the SAPPHIREs in May the iPad was an ubiquitous tool that analysts, bloggers and customers used. At the Google I/O conference a month ago 12 out of 15 CIOs in an executive briefing had an iPad. I with my laptop felt like a “wall flower” amongst these cool guys (I need not mention that I kept my laptop in my bag, it was just too embarrassing; and yes, I own an iPhone for more than 3 years). The San Jose Mercury News had a report about a 90 year old lady in a Silicon Valley retirement home, who owned her first “computer” (she never even had a cell phone): it was of course an iPad, which she uses for reading books and newspapers (the first time for years that she has been able to read with her bad eyesight by just double-clicking on the page) and for creating limericks (in the first two weeks she wrote five). Parents with toddlers hanging around in cafés entertaining the children with iPads –or more precisely – 3 year olds navigating through the apps selecting by themselves train videos on youtube and little game apps.

If we believed analysts and techbloggers, then the iPad is as necessary as a rash on your butt. It’s “technically inferior” to a laptop or other not-yet-available-tablets/slates/what-ever-you-name-it (no USB, no camera, no whatsoever), the business model dubious (who wants to pay for content?) and to be honest Apple’s licensing models and control-mania quite frankly outrageous.

The analysts and tech-bloggers are totally right, but they also totally miss the point. A PC, Macbook or laptop is nothing else than a supercharged rocket where most folks just need a bike. A bike that’s cool looking, easy to use and learn and doing the stuff I need just perfectly fine.

Here’s the deal: I bet with you that in 5 years the iPad (and any knockoffs from other vendors) will be used by 75% of business users to do their work. And I have some good arguments why this will be so. When you analyze the tasks that a typical business user does today, then you’ll find the following:
  • Reading, writing & sending emails
  • Reading & writing documents
  • Preparing & presenting slides
  • Creating spreadsheets
  • Use web based business transaction
  • Surf the internet (only work-related, of course)
  • Play games (only during breaks, of course)
  • Watch videos (only inspiring corporate videos from the CEO, of course)
For these tasks you really don’t need a laptop. These tasks can be handled by a modern laptop without even getting the circuits warmed up. Sure: there are the folks who need to edit and number crunch video-files, compile source code and run multiple virtual sessions. But these power users are the exception. Today we give everybody a rocket. If this hasn’t convinced you, here is more:
  • The iPad is cheaper (compare a US$ 500 iPad to a US$ 1,000+ laptop)
  • There are no moving parts (that can get defect), which means maintenance is cheaper
  • Battery life on the iPad is just incredible (more than 10 hours watching videos, try that on your laptop)
  • Easy way of distributing, installing and upgrading apps
  • Laptop is bulky and heavy compared with an iPad

And don’t forget that the usability of the iPad is just outstanding. Intuitive, idiot-proof – sorry – user-friendly that even my three year old browses through YouTube and selects the train videos he wants to watch. And we are people who like to touch, not click with a mouse (and more often than not missing the click target). Even if you don't like typing on a touchscreen, you can add a keyboard.

Test it yourself: take your laptop and pretend this is an iPad with keyboard. You type just as you are used to do it, and instead of grabbing the mouse, moving the pointer to the field or button you want to hit, you just touch the button on the screen. That’s much faster and way more intuitive.
For zooming-in just double-click or slide two fingers. And to browse through the pages and tab-strips just slide them left or right or up and down.

We are just at the beginning of how we interact more naturally with machines. And the iPad and the little brother ground breaker iPhone is a step in the right decision. Comparing it to the evolution of the iPhone in the past three years, the iPad will be such a mature thing in a short time, that all these critics today will be silenced then.

What does it mean for SAP? 75% of business users will be using iPad or similar devices in five years (remember: that was my bet). That means 75% of SAP systems will be accessed through iPads. You see the urgency? We better get going to adapt our apps to the iPad (and iPhone). And fast! And perhaps once in a lifetime we will have cool UIs. Imagine: SAP and cool UIs! In the past an oxymoron, in 2010 a synonym. I challenge you to prepare yourself for that revolution.

Note: I had a number of PDAs during the years, but the iPhone has proven to be the by far best device so far. Now the SAP (as well as corporate) culture has worshipped these phones with little keyboards that push each and every email on your device. That's why broad ranks just haven't realized the potential. The iPhone remained an exotic tool, while the users base just became larger and larger. The iPad now changed it. It is in the eyes of even the most addicted keyboard-phon-fans and it's not going away.
A bunch of developers inside SAP just started a little iPhone/iPad developer group to get their hands dirty. Within a few weeks we've grown to a community of 200+ members from all over the globe with more than 60 discussion threads, dozens of local groups that formed teams, and we saw interest and got support from across all board areas with everyone trying to help us and if necessary circumventing official processes. The momentum is incredible and this kind of positive energy hasn't been seen for many years.
Colleagues who visited SAPPHIRE this May just were astonished about the numbers of iPads and iPhone they saw in the hands of conference attendees.
So what I want to say is this: THIS is a big movement already rolling.

More than 2 years after Google announced with OpenSocial the creation of standards and APIs that allow exchange of profile information, activities and other data between social network systems, Myspace - one of the largest Social Media platforms - hosted the “State of OpenSocial” event yesterday in SF with 80+ attendees. While OpenSocial itself is well accepted in the social media community, less known are the Enterprise OpenSocial activities that focus on features for integrating OpenSocial functionality with enterprise applications.

 

The relatively new Enterprise OpenSocial (EOS) initiative includes companies that are ranging from small startups like Atlassian, Jive or Ning to big companies like Cisco, Oracle, IBM and SAP and participants as diverse as from British Telecom to Yahoo!

 

Now what’s required from OpenSocial for enterprises? OpenSocial itself provides a number of APIs that allow to retrieve and expose information as well as render gadgets. OpenSocial also relies heavily on a number of additional standards like OAuth, Activitiystrea.ms, OpenAjax or REST, but for the enterprise world’s requirements, more is necessary. The discussion with the audience members in yesterday’s meeting focused around security and privacy, performance, pubsubhubbub, portability and others.

 

I want to talk about a few of those topics that will help companies to use and integrate social media more effectively and efficiently:

 

Security/Privacy:the delicacy of this topic can be seen with each update of the Facebook-privacy agreements. Not only people are very sensitive and rightly “paranoid” about exposing their personal information to others or what is done with it, it is as important for companies as well, who are keen of closely controlling access to classified project/product/organizational information to third parties or even within the company itself. Standards like OAuth and OpenID to access information is one thing, but better defining people and groups and giving the latter one an independent life of their own with their own level of security will be one of the focus areas.

 

Shindig: this project focuses on enabling intranets or company websites to host OpenSocial apps. In its version 1.0 it is now an official Apache Foundation project with an impressive number of contributors (49) and hundreds of thousands of lines of code. This project is a big leap forward in integrating social networks. It reduces the pain to run a variety of social networks in your IT landscape. The team leads especially asked for test kits (for different social networks), test containers, support in testing and generally invited new contributors.

   

Pubsubhubbub: publishing and subscribing to the right information in time becomes an important part when the sender and recipient of information from social media are enterprise systems. Think CRM systems sending status updates or needing to react to such from social media. You can either get easily flooded with information or being informed too late or both. That's why a smarter and faster distribution and subscription mechanism is delivered tiwh Pubsubhubbub.

 

Mobile: a big discussion followed around “mobile”. While the definition of mobile seems to become even more fuzzy, thanks to smartphones and iPad, it dawned upon the attendees that the way we use computers is changing. Not so much laptops will be the predominant tools to access social and enterprise systems in the midterm, they will me more and more replaced by smart mobile devices. Therefore rendering gadgets for mobile devices needs to be addressed in an even more urgent way than it was so far.

OpenSocial Development Environment: Who wouldn't like to have that? No commitment, no roadmap, but the plea to all to provide their testkits and tools and hopefully with some magic having it transform into a OSDE.

 

The next steps are to create a specification draft and cut prototypes for early September, have a GA of Shindig 1.1 in Q1/2011 and plan a OpenSocial conference (together with a Google I/O event) in Asia for September.

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A collection of more Enterprise Social Systems related materials and getting started tours can be found on the Enterprise Social Systems Wiki

The new Enterprise Social Systems (ESS) community on the SCN addresses the need to gather questions and answers, best practices, standards and guidelines around the integration of social network technologies and features with enterprise applications and platforms.

Companies and organizations are trying to leverage the success of functionality provided for communities by social networks and use similar features in their corporate environment. Identifying the right contacts faster (profile information), creating virtual teams with complementary skills and matching interests (groups, fan sites), collaborating on projects (Wiki, forums, Google Wave), sharing information (status, tags, FAQs, videos), accelerating and improving decisions processes (“Like it”, “Thumbs up”)

If you are using Facebook, LinkedIn, XING, Google Wave, Twitter or others, you have already a good idea how you personally benefited from social media. As an SCN user you know how to use it for your professional life. If you wondered how you could extend that toolset to your own organization for professional use, then this is the right community to learn more about it, give feedback and influence the standards development and feature integration into the platforms of a variety of software vendors, including SAP, IBM, Google, Atlassian, Cisco, Jive and many more.

Help us to help you as developer, administrator or business user and share your experiences, gives us your best practices, discuss the proposals, ask and answer questions. We opened a /community [original link is broken], as well as a wiki for Enterprise Social Systems related materials and discussions. The initial material are a Getting Started section, a handful of frequently asked questions, what actually is currently getting included in the Open Social standard from an enterprise point of view, projects and products already displaying integration between enterprise and enterprise related software with social systems, and finally a whole bunch of invaluable links.

You are invited to become part of our community. Go and visit us!

A few weeks ago SAP announced a new developer license for the community and I couldn't even finish the word "royalty-free" for my New Community Developer License is available, when I already had tons of comments with questions. My partner in crime Rui Nogueira clarifyed some questions a few days later in his own blog SAP Community Developer License: Is my prototype an Add-on?

There basically were three areas that those questions touched:

  1. what exactly can I do with the license?
  2. what NW tools are included in the license?
  3. can we get more stuff with that licens?

ad 1) To give a good overview, I adapted Claudine Lagerholm's matrix (she's from the subscription program) and posted it in the Code Exchange Wiki under How is this license in comparison to other licenses?

ad 2) the same matrix also shows the development tools delivered with SAP NetWeaver that are currently included

ad 3) for this question I referred all users to the SDN Forum: Software Downloads to ask for other software there. Gregor Wolf et al created multiple voting threads and the response so far was overwhelming: nearly 4.000 views on one thread within a few days with more than 200 users asking for the PI 7.11 version to be included under this license on the download section. Now the ball is in the NW teams court to think about more NW tools and deliver.

Anyway, Ed Herrmann and Thomas Jung invited me to an interview for their Enterprise Geek Podcasts and here is it: Enterprise Geeks Podcast – SAP Community Developer License

My hope is that we were able to clarify most if not all questions and satisfy the communities need.

We mentioned it in former New developer licenses for NetWeaver on the horizon, now the license is here: a new license for development tools provided with SAP NetWeaver: SAP Community Developer Edition. The software with the new license is provided in the Downloads section of the SDN for SAP NetWeaver ABAPand for SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment. Whenever you download the tools from today on, the new license is attached and it grants you more rights than the old test & evaluation license.

Here are some highlights of what the new license allows (some of them will become important as soon as we also move code exchange from the closed beta phase to public availability in Q1/2010):

  • it's free of charge
  • test and evaluate SAP NetWeaver and develop and share your add-on prototypes on code exchange
  • the license doesn’t expire
  • the license grants you rights to consume APIs (such as enterprise services and BAPIs) to build your add-on prototypes
  • the code that you develop remains your code
  • SDN users license and use the software as individuals

So far those rights weren’t granted with the old test & evaluation license. To learn more, visit the FAQ in the Code Exchange wiki.

Just go ahead, check the links in the Downloads section to accept the new license and use the software under the extended terms. If you have any questions feel free to post them here.

Here are the links:

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