You might remember that I blogged recently about a workshop we ran at our Kolding Solutions Center (see “24 Hours Putting the Internet of Things Under the Microscope”) to promote some objective conversations about the IoT and our software solutions, especially as they relate to the data center industry. Part of our objective was to see what lessons we could learn from other industries through the lenses of entrepreneurs and technologists, scientists and business consultants.Thomas Marschall, an independent advisor working in Technology, M&A, Investments and Exits has well rounded experience when it comes to the way that businesses connect to their customers. He’s an expert in understanding whether that connection is made. It seemed appropriate for him to comment on some of the ideas that we were kicking around concerning the appification of software offers.
Today of-course, there’s an app for everything. According to Nielsen research, apps have transformed from novelty to an essential part of the smartphone experience. However, despite a heavy increase in the number of apps, the number which individuals actually use in a month has stayed relatively flat over the last few years. However, time committed to those that get actively used is increasing, so it pays to be popular. And games and gamification can help.
“If you want to stand out, if you believe that many vendors will come with similar apps, then doing something different is imperative… You need to do something that steals some time from your guy – your customer. Perhaps you should consider gamification… Your customer might actually look forward to scoring on your app every morning!” Says Thomas Marschall.
Not so very long ago, gamification was being touted as a method to increase engagement with external and internal audiences. However, the analyst Gartner estimated that by 2014 80 percent of gamified applications in the enterprise would fail to meet their respective business objectives, the primary culprit of all those failures being bad design.
Thomas Marschall seems to be pretty much in agreement with the need to ensure it fits with the audience: “I think that gamification is something that’s worth considering, especially if you’re looking at an audience of not particularly IT-savvy people, who maybe don’t enjoy IT. You don’t want people to have this as a chore. You want them to enjoy this. If you can achieve this, I think it’s a great benefit.”
And both he and the group he was working with were firm about the idea of keeping focussed in terms of ambitions. “The recommendation from our group would be to start small,” said Marschall. “…You try to identify some little things you want to accomplish, and be successful at that; get the attention of your customer through that success, we think that could be a winning formula. Rather than trying to eat the whole elephant there and then.”
We talked a little bit about the security implications of sharing data in order to create rankings, dashboards and even scoreboards for a gamified community. Thomas is an expert in security matters! I have to say, cyber security is something that’s been central to a lot of my recent customer conversations and blogs too.
“I come from the security business,” Thomas says. “One of the issues about the security business is that everybody says they’re more secure than the next company. So the customer has no clue, he cannot compare on any scale, it’s like comparing apples with pears. It’s very important when you sell security to be tangible and in a way that can be understood. Because otherwise you can get caught up in a spiral where everybody says they’re more secure. All of a sudden everyone is the most secure!
“In that respect, there were thoughts about providing an independent security audit where you employed a friendly hacking service. You could offer to the customer shall we just check the system? Maybe you would say we found five holes, but our system can actually handle that. That would be a very tangible approach to security.”
Moving forward it seems that usernames and passwords will play a less important role in an increasingly connected and data productive world: “I think we’ll see many more biometric security systems coming into play, so you’ll have eye-based biometrics, then voice, and gestures and facial recognition. And you can actually merge many of them together to develop biometric profiling based upon several metrics. But systems can only be so secure, because they also have to be convenient to use… I think we’ll see an increase in security, but we’ll also see an increase in convenience – and risk sharing will be central to that,” concludes Marschall.