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E2 Innovate conference. Based on discussions from that panel, here are five enterprise innovations I'm convinced are about to become a big deal.
Adding "tion" to a verb in an attempt to make it a noun is usually, well, strained. And in that sense, the term gamification generally misses the whole idea of creating recognition, reward, and engagement programs in the enterprise.
Chandar Patabhiram, VP of worldwide marketing for Badgeville Inc. told me that about half of purchased enterprise software applications remain unused due to lack of employee adoption. Badgeville, which he described as a "behavior platform," can increase software usage and customer retention, and foster deeper user engagement. The company recently released a version of its application that allows vendors to embed recognition and reward activities directly into their platform. Once I stopped thinking games and started thinking recognition and reward, the innovation behind Badgeville-type vendors became clear.
[ For more on the changing role of the CIO, see Gartner: CIOs Begin 3-Year Shift In Responsibilities. ]
The business arguments for developing a game strategy are based on overcoming corporate reluctance. Patabhiram pointed to customers such as EMC, Dell and Oracle that successfully use rewards and recognition strategies. He also cited Everyday Health, which increased its free-to-paid conversion rate by 5% and lifted user value by 20% for its health-related website.
2. Aggregated SaaS
Software-as-a-service is growing as an industry, and as long as the service meets your company's privacy, security and compliance requirements, it can be a great idea. Shifting the burden of software uptime, updates and distribution to a vendor whose business is to ensure that their application is the latest and greatest makes a lot of sense, financially and otherwise.
But what is the next big thing in SaaS? Kevin Spain, general partner at venture capital firm Emergence Capital, predicts that SaaS vendors will become data aggregators. Much like Google takes all its searches to create its Google Zeitgeist trend index, SaaS vendors also have the ability to create trend analyses, best practices, and support and service information by reaching a range of customers with their service applications.
Of course, such aggregation will still require that security and privacy obstacles be overcome. But it would be an innovative next step for SaaS to move from a cost calculation to an added-value application that an on-premise system could not match. For example, aggregated content from a human-resource services vendor might include everything from how to increase employee participation in company satisfaction surveys to salary data over industry segments.
3. Federated Identity
Issues around identity have been around since long before the computer industry took hold. The old corporate database question of one person holding many functions, or of one function applied to many people, has accelerated as now that corporate identity takes place in both cloud-based and on-premise applications. Trying to maintain corporate identities in silos (such as human resources, sales, finance, etc.) and identities in social networks (such as Facebook and LinkedIn) leads to juggling of multiple passwords and confusion over employee and customer data across the enterprise.
Shelton Waggener, senior VP of Internet2, said that creating a federated identity system was the most innovative enterprise project he has ever undertaken. Similarly, creating a federated identity system at your company might be your most important project in 2013. Waggener has been a driving force in the development of InCommon, the identity management federation for U.S. research and education. The federated identity project has a goal of single sign-on, privacy and secure user access to a wide range of services. It's a goal many private organizations would also like to meet.
4. CIO As Orchestra Leader
One of the topics we discussed during the E2 Innovate CIO panel was the trend of successful CIOs shifting from fighting for budget dollars to encouraging innovation. The CIOs on that panel, along with many other CIOs I speak with, overwhelmingly support a partnership in which business managers identify the best software services for their department while CIOs act as a hub, orchestrating all department decisions into a corporate technology platform. This mindset can be a big change for CIOs, but it provides a strong strategic basis for the future of enterprise IT architecture.
5. The Visible Corporation
As a kid, I spent a lot of time constructing a visible V-8 model engine. After I finished the model, it was a lot easier to tinker with real V-8s.
At E2Innovate, Google CIO Ben Fried spoke about building a transparent IT operation. In a transparent operation, users have open access to the products and services they feel they need to do their jobs rather than having to jump corporate approval hurdles. The same users have access to financial reports that include the cost of their technology choices.
Such transparency and open access might seem trivial, but I think it represents an innovative approach to upending the traditional top-down model of corporate organization. The combination of a mobile workforce, social networks and real-time data analytics is making the traditional model -- decisions passed down from the top to an awaiting workforce -- cumbersome, slow and non-competitive.
Transparency helped me learn how to time a V-8, and it can help you learn how to tune your company.
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