There has been a lot of buzz around gamification and application of game mechanics inside IT for quite a while. There are many applications for this theory (see “Gamification Primer: Life Becomes a Game”), most of what I am seeing has circulated around ERP and CRM systems. I believe there is a great opportunity to implement some of this in software that hits close to home. Those of us who work inside IT Operations have seen your typical operations center, with multiple screens. The centerpiece of these is often an Event Correlation and Analysis (ECA) tool. (see “Magic Quadrant for IT Event Correlation and Analysis”) These tools are commonly known as event consoles, and they will contain a lot of multicolored alarms which are currently being worked on by the operations team. These are often high stress environments, where most of the operators aren’t all that excited about the deluge of problems to fix on their plate.
I got to thinking about this growing trend and how it can apply to areas of IT near and dear to an operations executive. With game theory we can use some motivational practices to apply points and importance to issues while keeping things fun. In more detail, an issue would be given points at the start of the reported alarm. The points given could be a combination of the severity, impact, and the time it was reported. As time goes on the number of points would reduce. When an issue is closed and doesn’t re-open for a given amount of time the points are awarded to the engineer who resolved the issue.
Next to the main display of active alarms, we could have a display showing the engineer list. Next to their name would be some display of statistics along with the point total, motivating the engineers and providing a valid way for management to award the top performers. This is similar to a common practice in sales where a board of the monthly numbers is often posted for everyone in the company to see.
I hope to write research on this topic and other areas that we can provide motivation to IT engineers. Stay tuned!