The Evolution Of Workforce Science

Jim Wexler, President, Experiences UnlimitedJames holds over two decades of experience and has held senior positions in several companies. He holds Bachelor of Arts, Semiotics from Brown University.

Many CIOs are acknowledging the benefit of gamification to help engage employees and customers and change their behavior and are preparing their organizations to support it. In larger context, this adoption calls for examination of the role of Big Data in business and in our overall culture.

The excitement surrounding Big Data is that web-browsing, location tracking, and social networks can help deliver automated, meaningful measurement of people and predict their behaviors. Our e-mails, social network interactions and mouse clicks are able to be mined for `programmatic' insights. Life Insurers can now learn more from our Internet histories than from a blood test. Personality-based assessment tests accurately measure worker behavior and predict fit and performance.

This ability to measure on a grand scale promises to transform organizational management. Can Big Data make for a smarter working world, with more efficiently run companies guided by data and analysis? Are there depend-able processes for predicting behaviors, skills, and preferences? Welcome to the relatively new field of workforce science, which adds predictive analytics to a hiring and talent development playing field that's long been dominated by gut intuition.
The rise of workforce science adds significance to effectively engaging users: the new benefit of inducing them to give up more data. This puts new emphasis on digital communications approaches like Gamification, which has been gaining attention as a mechanism for improving user experience. Gathering and leveraging user data feeds a virtuous circle, because when data-driven experiences become more insightful and relevant, they deliver as much value to users as the companies that deploy them.

Games are the go-to medium for a generation of consumers for whom the `language of games' ­ game dynamics, interfaces and interactions have been with them since childhood. According to Venture Beat, the average gamer in the United States is 31 years old. And it's not just a `guy thing'. Women make up 48 percentage of gamers. Half of workers play a game on their phone every day. Video games are not just kid stuff.

Gaming is no longer a solitary pursuit as the most popular games rely on team collaboration, often comprised of individuals who are strangers in real life. What does this mean for business? Leveraging a media platform that users celebrate in their everyday lives builds relevant relation-ships that yield more data.

Game-driven experiences offer competitive training and onboarding experiences and measure user response. For example, The Road Ahead is an app that uses gamification to attract users and gathers their data. The interactive experience takes users on a journey about their interests in different career paths. Users participate both because it's fun and because of its perceived value: The Road Ahead tells them who they are and provides a list of jobs that fit their personality. Sponsoring employers mine the competency-based assessment output to build a talent pipeline.

Similarly, UPtick is an enterprise software app that puts sales trainees into a virtual customer role-play and scores them on the choices they make. The engaging gamified experience keeps them coming back and leader board offers the chance to compete for real-life incentives or bragging rights. Uptick's built-in assessment system provides real-time insight into the user's selling competencies, serving both the user and the organization.

Perhaps the best role for these tools may be in parsing and prioritizing what we know about the workforce. For now, humans still trump computers at identifying the differentiators in organizational performance. This balance is shifting, as game-based experiences deliver more fun and more value.