The Best Workplace in Finland

According to the Great Place to Work® Institute employees feel they are working in a great workplace when they can trust the management, have pride in their work and enjoy the people they work with. Although it doesn’t sound too difficult to meet these expectations, only few work communities do. Luckily I have the privilege to work in the best workplace in Finland. I make this argument regardless of the fact that we haven’t yet taken part in the survey executed by the institute mentioned before.

The right people turn small things big

I started as Cloudriven’s Marketing and Communications Manager in the beginning of November 2012 and now I’ve worked almost a year here on the edge of the cloud. I’ve learnt a lot about gamification, sales, CRMs and marketing. Yet one of the most important learnings has been that working in a small company is fun.

We here at Cloudriven work for results, not for working hours. You don’t have to sit at the office from nine to five, if you can get the work tasks of the week done at your home couch. Things move forward here, you don’t have to work alone, there’s always enough (but not too much) work to be done and your work really has an effect on the success of the company. And once in a while we eat a cake Anu has spontaneously baked for us, have a glass of sparkling wine for a new deal Antero had negotiated, go orienteering or horseback riding. In November we can all have a laught at Jukka’s Movember moustache and raise funds for charity.

The CEO of a small but big Finnish gaming company has stated many times that the best way to grow big is to stay small. In today’s information society, the number of employees a company has doesn’t necessarily measure greatness and success. It’s more important to combine the ideas and enthusiasm of a few talented individuals to excellent team spirit. The right people turn small things big.

If you are talented and clearly Cloudriven material, you should definitely apply for a job (in Finnish). In an ideal situation you could be having sparkling wine with us already in November.

Cloudriven employees. Photo: Mikko Roininen

A staged situation from Cloudriven’s Monday meeting.

Do You Know Which Rows in Your SharePoint List Are Hot and Which Cold?

Since the beginning, Cloudriven’s Virta customers have used heat maps to examine which accounts are the most important and how well they’ve been managed lately. The heat map instantly reveals how the sales are weighted as a whole. In addition to monitoring sales, heat maps can be used for various purposes, for instance to visualize employees’ exercise activities.

Data visualization can also be useful in common information work and, to be exact, in SharePoint. That is why we released a Sharepoint app called List Data Visualizer which can be installed into SharePoint directly from Microsoft Office Store. The application allows you to make a treemap-style visualization of any SharePoint list or library. In this blog post I want to highlight various use cases in which List Data Visualizer can be useful for you and your organization.

Play With the Boxes

A heat map is a collection of boxes of different size. The size of the box is defined by how much information it holds inside. The boxes can also be of different color; the colors are used to communicate how important or fresh the information in the box is. Every time new information is put into the box, it grows a bit and the color may change.

Heat map can be used to quickly summarize information from different viewpoints and to detect patterns which would be very difficult to spot in other ways. It is particularly useful when there is a lot of data which can be filtered before the visualization. Here are a couple of examples of use cases and questions that visualization can answer:

[wpcol_1half id=”” class=”” style=””]

Feedback and Evaluation

  • Which products or services receive the most feedback?
  • Which products receive positive feedback?
  • Which products have received feedback recently?

Knowledge Base

  • Which products or services have the most knowledge base articles?
  • Who has written the most articles?
  • Which subjects are the most popular at the moment?

[/wpcol_1half] [wpcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=””]

Product Development

  • Which product features have been fixed most often?
  • Which product features have been the most expensive to fix?
  • Is the trend of the product fixes increasing or decreasing?

Event Registration

  • Which events are the most popular?
  • Which companies have the most attendees?
  • How does the amount of registrations vary monthly?

[/wpcol_1half_end]

Projects Put in Order

The application development was initiated because one of our customers wanted to demonstrate how their project deliveries had been divided between different industries and offerings. Since a reference story was written in almost all of the cases, the customer decided to maintain the reference stories in a separate SharePoint library which contained the industry and offering metadata fields.

When the content of the reference library is presented as a heat map, the customer can quickly detect which of the industries customer has the most knowledge of and which industries buy which products. Using colors to visualize the freshness of the reference, the customer can also get an overview of which of the industries or offerings are hot and which need activation at the moment.

Project References

The boxes are quick links to the filtered library view where you can easily access the documents the box visualizes.

Little Competition Keeps Your Exercise Motivation High

In Cloudriven we use List Data Visualizer to visualize employees’ exercise activity. We input all our exercises in one SharePoint list and we have to define what was the sport, when did the exercise take place and for how long. When we tried to visualize the exercise log, we came to the conclusion that the following visualizations worked the best:

1) The monthly sport distribution shows in general what sports were exercised in which month. The dark red color in the below image tells us that orienteering exercises have been reported quite recently but it’s been a while since the latest weight training − not to mention the other sports! Perhaps the orienteering enthusiasm which began in June in Jukola relay had such an effect on us that the “gamified forest running” was still the most popular sport in August.

Employee Exercise Log

2) To monitor the amount of personal exercise activities, the boxes of List Data Visualizer were set to represent every employee’s monthly exercises. The color of the box was set to represent the monthly duration of the exercises on a scale of 0−15 hours. Zero hours would give you a yellow box and 15 or more hours would give you a dark red box. We were then able to keep track of how the colors of our own boxes changed during the month and compare our exercise activity with others.

Give Us More Use Cases, Please!

The above-mentioned use cases are just examples of how data can be visualized in information work. Surely there are a lot more use cases. What relevant information would you want to visualize in your own SharePoint? Comment below!

Cloudriven Takes Part in App Awards Competition

App Awards 2014App Awards 2014 organized by Microsoft, Nokia and AppCampus is a competition for Finnish app developers. Cloudriven takes part in the competition with two apps: CRM Meeting Monitor for Windows 8 and CRM Call Tracker for Windows Phone 8. Cloudriven’s apps have also been chosen for the App Awards Showcase.

App Awards 2014 competition rewards Finnish Windows 8 and Windows Phone applications which combine exceptional usability, unique design and advanced technology. In addition, App Awards 2014 is looking for internationally potential Finnish companies and developers who deserve to be in the spotlight.

There are five categories in the competition. Renowned professional jury will test all the submitted apps and choose one of them to be the Application of the Year 2014.

Additional information:

App Awards 2014
Jukka Koskenkanto, tel. +358 50 560 4607

Don’t Listen to Mumbo Jumbo ― Gamification Can Be a Profitable Investment

I got excited about productivity improving information systems about ten years ago. After around hundred project deliveries, several systems developed for our customers and our products Virta and Sydän, I ended up studying the benefits of gamification in different organizations. I’ve lectured a popular negotiation skills course for several years in Aalto university. The course offers a cross-disciplinary approach to the noble skill of negotiation. Gamification also draws from several branches of science: motivation psychology helps in understanding changes in human behaviour, mathematical modeling reveals causal factors leading to results and information science sheds light on the technology.

Besides academic interest and my own practical experience, I have closely followed the hype around gamification and the different approaches companies have to the subject. Choose the right approach to gamification and you’ll make sure that your organization’s investment is worth every penny. Don’t be fooled by the uncovered nonsense and mumbo jumbo the technology-oriented propeller heads try to feed you. The companies that offer gamified systems or gamify business solutions can be divided into roughly three categories:

  • Entertainment producers believe that productivity is improved by an animated Santa Claus who drops answers from his gift bag to frequently asked questions when clicking with the mouse
  • Technology believers trust that productivity will increase, for example, when every employee gathers badges or scores points by commenting on any SharePoint blog
  • Business solution providers solve business problems and improve customer’s results by changing behaviors and influencing business critical processes using game mechanisms

Cloudriven wants to provide value for your company. We are a business solution provider. We don’t cash in by selling “feature porn” and maximizing the billable hours of our employees as IT suppliers typically do. Instead we invest in gamified enterprise systems ― Virta, Sydän and soon to be launched Habit ― that solve our customers’ business problems and are used as productively as possible. That’s how we help our customers to change the behaviors of employees, partners and customers in a way that can be seen down to the last row of the income statement. At the same time it produces an exceptionally good ROI (Return on Investment) for the system investment.

I’m extremely glad for the possibility to be one of the lecturers in a course called Gamificate (in Finnish) which is arranged by the University of Oulu and Kajaani University of Applied Sciences during this autumn and winter 2014. I promise to use my observations and the things I’ve learned the hard way as examples in addition to theory. You can still sign up to the course before 31.8.! I’m sure you’ll find hands-on tips to benefit your business from the successful and not-so-successful examples given by me and other lecturers during course.

What Is Gamification?

What is Gamification?Gamification has been a hot potato in the technology business for a couple of years. But what is gamification? In 2011 Gartner predicted that by the year 2014 70 percent of Global 2000 organizations will use game elements in their applications. Game elements in business applications can be, for example, diverse scoring systems, leaderboards and ranking lists, progress bars, badges, levels and quests. In turn, Deloitte advices companies to seriously consider, if gamification would be the solution for engaging customers and personnel.

Because gamification is a difficult concept and a tricky word, I thought I’d gather up some definitions of the concept I’ve come across in the web. Lastly, I briefly open up what we at Cloudriven consider gamification to be. We’ll elaborate on our gamification concept in the next blog post.

The word gamification was supposedly first used by British coder and inventor Nick Pelling in the year 2002. Pelling’s ideas were still far from what gamification is considered to be today. Pelling used the term gamification to describe how he thought the user-interfaces of electronic devices, such as ATMs and vending machines, should be designed more game-like. He was not that into browser-based web applications; he was more interested in physical equipment and their user interface. In the pre-history of gamification you can also find Bret Terril’s blog post about social games. He mentions gameification [sic] of the web as one interesting subject that had been elaborated in the Social Gaming Summit that year.

The biggest or at least the loudest and most influential gamification guru, American Gabe Zichermann has defined gamification as the process of using game thinking and game dynamics to engage audiences and solve problems. Almost the same definition can be found in Wikipedia with the addition that gamification specifically refers to non-game contexts. Deterding, Dixon, Khaled and Nacke elaborate on this approach in their article. From all the different definitions Zichermann’s and Wikipedia’s versions are probably the most commonly used; either as they are or slightly altered.

The word gamification was even accepted into Oxford Dictionary last year:

the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service: gamification is exciting because it promises to make the hard stuff in life fun

Oxford Dictionaries

As it is also mentioned in the Oxford’s definition, so far companies have utilized game elements mainly in marketing: customers have been enticed to spend more time with the company’s brand or product with the aid of gamification. A good example is Samsung’s customer loyalty program Samsung Nation where the fans of the brand can collect badges and points, review products, watch videos and see what other fans are doing. The social features found in Facebook and other social media services are important also in gamified applications.

Kai Huotari and Juho Hamari define gamification from the service marketing perspective because, as said, most of the gamified implementations aim for marketing benefits. According to them gamification refers to a process of enhancing a service with affordances for gameful experiences in order to support user’s overall value creation. The definition emphasizes the goals of gamification; previously introduced definitions are based on the idea that gamification is all about the game elements.

What gamification is not?

80 percent of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives primarily because of poor design.

Gartner 2012

Gartner’s report from last November bursts the gamification bubble. Gamified applications implemented in novelty and hype don’t usually meet the set business goals. The main reason for failure is poor design: too much focus is put on single features, like badges and points, instead of the user experience as a whole. With mere badges you don’t go far. In addition to extrinsic motivators (badges and points), one should take into consideration the intrinsic motivators like power, autonomy, learning and the sense of meaning (e.g. Amy Kim 2010, s. 12). It helps to get to know the different user types and some behavioral psychology.

In fact gamification is a misleading concept because in the end, gamified business applications don’t have much in common with the actual entertainment games. Like Gabe Zichermann and Christopher Cunningham remind us in their book Gamification by Design, the purpose of gamified applications is to increase long-term engagement and customer loyalty. A game in which customer’s or employee’s alter ego hunts down bogeys with an assault rifle in corporate colors is not necessarily the best way to achieve the business goals; even though it might be fun. Gamification is not about turning business into entertainment or a simple game or play. It is about engaging, motivating, training and managing your customers, partners and employees by using familiar game elements.

The predecessor of Cloudriven’s Virta was called BLARP (Business Live Action Roleplaying Game). It was the result of New Media company Satama’s and Trainers’ House’s collaboration and originally designed to bring play and creativity into workplaces. The visions were wild as you can see from the advertising video below (sadly only available in Finnish).

We were ahead of our time when we six years ago tried to bring gamification to the everyday life and management of organizations. Time wasn’t quite ready then; only a few customers took the gamified features of BLARP into full use. Now gamification is in a strong lift and customers are starting to realize its business benefits. Based on our previous experiences we have a strong lead.

The goal is to change behavior

We at Cloudriven realize that from business perspective gamification is most of all about changing the behavior of customers, partners and personnel towards the desired direction. The most important method of managing behavior is instant feedback: user must get immediate feedback of his/her actions. Gamification has so far been utilized mostly in marketing, but good examples of activating, engaging and motivating employees also exist.

Based on these ideas we are currently developing a game platform that will put your organization’s strategy into practice. With the aid of the gamification platform, management can define what activities are necessary in order to fulfill the strategy and monitor the completion of these activities. Employees, partners and customers can now achieve the set goals because they receive guidance and immediate feedback for their actions.

We believe gamification can help organizations to build up customer loyalty and share of wallet and increase significantly the employees’ feeling of inclusion as well as motivation and learning.