The usability of most business software is notoriously poor, and because of this, it often goes unused within companies that have invested in it. The New York Times has an interesting article about attempts made by some software makers to introduce design elements from videogames in the hopes of making software more engaging, and thus more likely to actually get used. However, while the ambition is interesting, it sounds like things are still at an inchoate state. One maker of CRM software is making it so that salespeople can build profiles for potential customers, as if they were updating a character profile in a game, which doesn't sound like a terribly exciting feature. The software will also make it easier for the salespeople to see how they rank in comparison to their peers, though people in sales aren't typically lacking in competitive zeal. The article also mentions a company we've discussed before that's hoping to solve the problem of email overload by giving employees an artificial currency that they use up every time they send an email. If an email is deemed by the recipient to be important then the sender doesn't lose as much of their currency. But it would seem that any timed saved by reducing email overload would be lost by employees monitoring their currency reserves and trying to figure out how much they should spend to deliver an email. Furthermore, it doesn't sound particularly videogame-like or even fun. So while software designers may yet figure out how to make day-to-day tasks more like playing a game, it seems like they have a long way to go.
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