Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Outsourcing Dear John?

Hues Consulting in Atlanta has made the impersonal personal again in personnel, with a service that lets companies outsource their candidate follow-up obligations. Not since 'Rock The Boat' has Hues made news.

Hues believes that a letter or email telling them they didn't make the cut isn't enough. "People are fed up with the lack of communication. They feel disrespected, minimized and ignored. It seems companies are forgetting that human element" says Adrienne Graham, CEO of Hues.

The "Recruiter Response Team" service takes the burden of closing the loop off of recruiters' plate and gives candidates closure (along with respect and dignity).
For overworked recruiting staffs that can't find time to dump candidates themselves, the Hues Corporation solution brings the human element back to recruiting -- albeit third party disconnected humans. Better than nothing?

The phone script?
"Up to now we sailed through every storm
and I've always had your tender lips to keep me warm
oh I need to have the strength that flows from you
don't let me drift away my dear, though you didn't get the job

So I'd like to know where, you got the notion....."

It supports the employer brand...if you want it to say 'we overreach, impersonally source, cannot manage inventory, and serve our people if not well then at least the second best we can.'

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

WPP Backs Gamification: Greenblatt sees Greenbacks

I met Mindshare CMO David Adelman when he was at J&J. He told me our talk about the future of game-based learning was an eyeopener. Maybe I should have stayed in touch -- the Mindshare juggernaut has added north of $1.5Bn in net new business billings in 18 months. That's a lot of golf and a lot of success!

Some is from gaming. With revenues and usage climbing steadily in the sector, they appointed Geoffrey Greenblatt to the new position of director of gaming. According to Nielsen, over half of all American adults now engage with video games, which are enough for Greenblatt who declares that the space has arrived as a mainstream channel for marketers; it is not just a vehicle for reaching kids and teens anymore.

"You have to consider gaming to be the 21st-century entertainment form, and it's certainly arrived," he said. "It is demographically agnostic," he added, "any age, any sex, any demographic out there is now playing games."

Last month, PriceWaterhouseCoopers issued a new report predicting 8% annual ad growth in the North American video game market over the next five years (through 2015), reaching the $1.5 billion mark. During the same period, consumer spending on games in the region will climb more than 4% annually, reaching $17.5 billion.

Greenblatt sees social gaming as a trend that's just hitting its stride. "It's not just a fad," he said.

His favorite game? "I'm a serious fan of 'Fruit Ninja."

Earlier in his career, Greenblatt was a planner and buyer at Publicis Groupe's MediaVest.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Gamification -- The Casual Buzzword

One of the hot topics of discussion at the Casual Connect conference in downtown Seattle (which highlights everything you could possibly imagine about the casual games business) has been “gamification.”

PopCap CEO Dave Roberts

PopCap CEO Dave Roberts kicked off his keynote address on Tuesday with 10 things he hates about the casual games business. The #1 item on his list? You guessed it: Gamification.

On Wednesday, at a press event, PopCap co-founder Jason Kapalka elaborated on Roberts’ remarks, telling GeekWire that he doesn’t have a problem with the concept of gamification. What Kapalka can’t stand about gamification is the name. After all, he holds games as sacred products. Creating a term like gamification does more to harm to the business because it actually dilutes down what a game means. And, in his view, a game has one simple goal: to be fun.

The term certainly has come on strong in the past 12 months. A Web search for the term about two years ago on Google returned just four results. Now, according to a recent search, there are about 1.6 million results.

At this year’s Casual Connect conference there’s no shortage of panels about the concept: “Smart Gamification: Seven Core Concepts for Creating Compelling Experiences:” or “Gamification for Everyone: What’s your Strategy?” or “Gamification and Social TV: The New Way to Watch.”

A new consultancy called Research Through Gaming (R.T.G.) applies game mechanics to improve respondents’ survey-taking experiences, collecting ‘Playspondent’ feedback to boost response rates.

UK based RTG provides gamification consultancy as well as working on specific online and off-line research game design and development. RTG is launched by former Nebu exec Betty Adamou who hopes to give a much-needed facelift for market research. ‘There’s definitely a benefit of being first in market with R.T.G. as the first provider in MR solely focused on gamification. I’m looking forward to the future of market research, which I hope will have more and more of a creative and innovative edge.’

Friday, July 22, 2011

Budget Crisis? Gamify It!

You may not always agree with government regulations. You probably also place the blame of the current state of the economy on present and past administrations. Well now is your chance to show how much better you can handle the nation’s finances in a new budgeting simulation game.

The game, called Budget Hero 2.0, shows players just how difficult it might be to carry out their grand policy objectives -- universal health care, extending the Bush tax cuts or ending foreign aid -- and still keep the government from either becoming irrelevant, or going broke.

Players start in the year 2021, based on Congressional Budget Office numbers showing what happens to the government's budget if there is no change in current policy. They then pick from some 100 policy cards as they try to earn "badges" that reflect their political leanings. In a quick demonstration of the game, two college students, one taking typical Republican positions and the other Democratic, showed just how difficult it will be to save the country. Both plans saw the government go broke -- reaching a point where there isn't enough money to cover mandatory programs.

“The game is a valuable teaching tool” says former Rep. Jane Harman, head of the Woodrow Wilson Center, a nonpartisan think tank that developed the game with American Public Media. Players get insights into the "difficult choices involved in reducing the deficit and raising the debt limit," she said.

Simulation games allow players to encounter different problems that would emulate real world dilemmas. Players can then attempt to tackle these problems in a risk-free environment. These simulations are already used in both the corporate and educational levels. Arrow’s Max! supply chain simulation has players managing several supply chain customers. Deloitte’s ‘Virtual Team Challenge’ business simulation teaches high school business students about real world business concepts.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gamification = Tower of Babel?

There needs to be a gamification shake out as the Web outside of Facebook continues to become more social.

"Gamification" indicates when a system of game-like constructs is put in place to incentivize users to engage with a brand, product, or service. Game mechanics are on the verge of exploding as websites look to reward their most loyal visitors and syndicate content. In fact, Gartner Research predicts that by 2015, more than half of companies managing innovation processes will employ game mechanics. Further, in that same timeframe, M2 Research forecasts that the game mechanics production will generate $1.6 billion in revenues and will account for 23% of social media marketing budgets.

This impending surge makes sense as game mechanics has the potential to reach website visitors in ways that marketers have only dreamed of. Yet efforts to gamify sites can fail because those game mechanics remain siloed from the rest of a site's social elements.

In essence, gamification can't just be a light layer sitting atop a website like a cherry on a fudge Sunday, with social rewards being served up to any user who merely "likes" your page. Users should be rewarded for interacting with your site in positive ways--like sharing, commenting, chatting, and logging into your site through a social network. And the only way for that to happen is if your site's game mechanics are actually able to interact with your other social functions, all speaking the same language. It's not an easy task for your IT team or developers especially as social networks constantly change or upgrade their APIs, which can stop your site's social elements dead in their tracks, leaving your visitors confused and unengaged.

Game mechanics are going to be an integral part of companies' social strategies for keeping their customers engaged when they're not on Facebook. But right now the market is littered with point solutions all offering different components coded in different languages--there are just too many cooks in the kitchen.

Structure Helps New Employees Adjust

A new study, conducted by Jamie Guman, Ph.D and Alan Saks, shows a regular change of jobs and careers has become the new world work order. The study is the first to examine links between “on-boarding” tactics and newcomer engagement. It is published in the Journal of Managerial Psychology.

The study suggests that a structured employee orientation for new hires can be beneficial in promoting effective employee engagement but is just a starting point. To be fully engaged, new employees need to be supported by their superiors and colleagues so they can feel “safe” and believe that their work is meaningful.

Many companies are turning to simulation games for new employee orientation. Simulations have new hires encounter real life situations in a risk-free environment so that they will be ready for the challenges ahead of them. Johnson & Johnson’s “Your Future in Nursing” program allows new nurses to face such challenges to prepare them for the nursing world.

Personal engagement at work is a key factor to job success as well as a new employee’s commitment and performance which can in turn affect the company’s productivity and competitiveness.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The People Skills Test for Aspiring MDs

Doctors save lives, but they can sometimes be insufferable know-it-alls who bully nurses and do not listen to patients. Medical schools have traditionally done little to screen out such flawed applicants or to train them to behave better, but that is changing.

The nation’s 134 medical schools have long relied almost entirely on college grades and the standardized Medical College Admission Test to sort through more than 42,000 applicants.

One-on-one interviews are offered but provide poor assessments of a candidate’s social skills because they reflect only one person’s view, often focusing on academic issues and elicit practiced responses to canned questions like “Why do you want to become a doctor?”

Now, at least eight medical schools in the United States are shifting to the admissions equivalent of speed-dating: nine brief interviews that force candidates to show they have the social skills to navigate a health care system in which good communication has become critical.

Sample questions include whether giving patients unproven alternative remedies is ethical, whether pediatricians should support parents who want to circumcise their baby boys and whether insurance co-pays for medical visits are appropriate.

The same approach to improving communications skills is helping nurses prepare for their first jobs in hospitals. An avatar-based simulation called "Your Future in Nursing" showcases the people skills scenarios a nurse will face when leaving nursing school and helps them hone skills and get oriented to hospital-based human interaction in a risk-free environment.


‘Gamification’ of consumer apps like Foursquare through points, badges, mayorships has become a big thing over the past 18 months. Now US startup IActionable wants to bring game mechanics to the enterprise market too, with an app for leading cloud-based business platform

Engage is built to integrate with Salesforce accounts, adding points, challenges, achievements and leader boards to working culture. IActionable says that its platform can: be used to increase productivity, be used as a training tool, help to improve Salesforce adoption amongst new staff by helping them get used to the platform and encouraging old hands to use it to its full potential, help improve performance monitoring, and spur on healthy competition between employees.

Applying game mechanics to work is nothing new – sales teams in businesses around the world have long operated leader boards and rewards schemes to motivate staff. Opinions will vary, but’s ‘chief scientist’ JP Rangaswami recently spoke about how gamification was the future of the motivation and performance management in the workplace, so expect to see more of this kind of thing in the future.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Zynga Gamifies Privacy Policy

Zynga, creators of the wildly popular Facebook game FarmVille, has released their newest game. Only it won't let you grow crops and milk cows, but it will teach you about online privacy.

The new game, PrivacyVille, is a combination of a Zynga privacy tutorial that gives incentives for users to click through it. Players are then rewarded 200 zPoints in RewardVille, Zynga’s online shop.

Companies across the globe have been turning to Gamification for both their internal and external learning and messaging. It is easier for brands’ to get their message across if they speak the language of a new generation, through games.

"As part of our commitment to user privacy we strive to make it easier for players to learn more about the types of information we collect, how it is used and what their choices are for that information," Zynga said in a blog post. Make it a game, with real rewards. PrivacyVille is modeled after CityVille, which Zynga launched in Nov. 2010. Users are required to click through buildings representing policies such as "communications features," "management," "storage," and "email," where Zynga explains its policies for each. The goal appears to get privacy information in front of the user.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gamification for Recruiting (Part Two)

IBM’s "Smarter Planet" campaign celebrates Big Blue's ambitious efforts to tackle some of the most vexing dilemmas of our era. But IBM is going to have to get a lot smarter if its going to attract the next generation of smarter workers to work there.

After dumping $30 million to build the Watson computer that beat two former "Jeopardy!" champions earlier this year (and far more to promote it), the company lugged its machine to Carnegie Mellon University with the goal -- persuade some of those students to consider a career at IBM. The move was part of a new charm offensive by mature technology companies, including Microsoft Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co., as they compete for engineering students against sexier start-ups, such as Facebook Inc. and Twitter.

Others are using game-based communications to drive engagement and start the brand conversation. Deloitte's "Virtual Team Challenge" is an employer branding and recruiting program that attracts talent to the accounting/audit career path. This first-ever use of multiplayer virtual worlds for talent. (see New York Times)

The strategy for talent "fit": Sims to differentiate SNI, and attract and engage candidates with greater efficiency and effectiveness. By telling the SNI employer brand story well the Sim delivers 'self-selected' inspired candidates with a clear understanding of your culture. Through integrated assessment instruments you cast a wider net and prioritize who funnels out, with increasing insight into high-quality talent.

Microsoft holds tech confabs at which it demonstrates its newer technologies, such as the Microsoft Kinect motion sensor for gaming. See recent coverage in BusinessWeek and coverage in Forbes.