This is probably my last entry as an SAP employee (creating an enterprise search engine company), but I’d like to share with you my last work at SAP, which has been presented at SAP Teched Demojam 2011 in Madrid. This work has been done with Olivier Mercier (now working at SAP in Dublin), Wilfrid Real from IBM in La Gaude, and Patrick Duverger from the city of Antibes.
So what is this about ? Mobile forecasting (this is where SAP, Antibes and IBM are involved) and gamification (this is where SAP and IBM are involved).
Gamification: You probably have heard about gamification quite a lot this year (our champion being Mario Herger, see for instance Gamifying the Enterprise: Gamification Summit 2011 and OINK OINK! Welcome to the SAP Gamification Cup! ),
Gamification can cover many aspects, so let’s first reduce its scope to our assumptions:
From a user perspective:
– SAP users are like normal people, they don’t like reading manuals
– SAP users need incentives to go beyond their comfort zone (sorry, this is the only time I’ll use this crappy management word 😉 )
– SAP users like things like linkedin because it gives value to their past experiences, in addition to maintaining their business social network
From an SAP perspective
– Making applications a bit more fun can change the stereotypical image of SAP of having “german” products (i.e. extremely good and reliable but dry from a usability perspective)
– Encouraging users to play allows to get feedback on the software usage
– Proposing a platform to embed game technologies attracts partners who may want to profit from it
From a partner perspective
– I want a gamification look and feel that resembles the SAP one
– I don’t want to own a framework
Based on that, we propose the following solution:
– A web framework using REST in order to ease client/server communication
– A web server to persist the game data, consolidate it and promote active users
– Game achievements on client side, with 2 types: achievements to encourage learning, and achievements to encourage power usage (new word of mine for encouraging power users)
Our basic assumption is that people will appreciate gamification techniques because it gives value to their expertise. Kind of an automatic extension to linkedin, that permantely updates your profile to show your best skills. Used to the max, it could even replace certifications, as it’s a way to show all the nice things a user can do, and since how long he’s been using certain software.
Let’s stop here for the gamification aspect. Now to the mobile forecasting aspect, the one of interest for the city of Antibes. Predictive analytics is a nice area, yet it usually targets expert users. You need experts in order to do new algorithms, and you often need experts to just use the tool 😛 Plus, existing tools are available for desktops rather than mobiles. So what we worked on is a mobile application with the following requirements: simple (to configure), simple (to use). The outcome is the following: an Android application, which is able to forecast any CSV file which it receives via email. It is fast, proposes 3 basic forecasting algorithms, plus multivariables ones (this part is impressive as well, it computes on the fly on the mobile the most correlated values). AND, since forecasting is always something uncertain, users can even directly modify the forecasting on the screen, in realtilme, using their fingers.
I encourage you to give a look at the teched demojam video, which shows you all of that in 6 minutes. I’d like to thank the different people who worked on the different versions on the prototypes: Stephane Dupin, Johannes Demund, Olivier Mercier, Laurent Gomez, Wilfrid Real and Patrick Duverger. Without them, this combined prototype would never have existed!!!
I don’t have enough time to expand on that, but I can for sure give you more info if you ask for it in the comments J