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What is an example of the kind of problem that your customers say they need Chatter to solve?

“Help me find the things and people that will help me close the sale: Where is the collateral that will help me answer the question the customer has? Who are the people who have the skills to be able to do that?” So you can think of it in terms of search costs being reduced.

If more and more of the work of a company is done in these information streams, where employees pose questions to their networks and get answers in response, then the ways of measuring employee performance might need to change, right?

We publish something called Chatterlytics: who’s most likely to comment back and reply within a given time, whose answers have been seen as valuable. Terms like “relationship capital” or “social capital” or “human capital” start having meaning. We’ve used them for 20 years, but without the tools to measure them or understand them. It’s what we’ve learned from the Facebooks, from the Twitters, from the LinkedIns and the like: okay, now we know something called clout. Not how many followers you have, but also what kinds of followers you have. That’s where “gamification” of the enterprise begins.

I think I see where you’re going—that if people were eventually scored on whether their colleagues saw them as good collaborators, they would be motivated to keep it up, to improve their scores?

There is an altruistic element, [but people confronted with a request for assistance also ask] “If I do this, will it make my job easier? If I do this, will I get peer respect? If I do this, will I get recognition?” These sorts of questions are human. And what we’re now finding is that we could see a world where, for this project, you could say, “You need these three badges.” [Users of the social-networking service Foursquare earn badges for doing certain things, such as visiting a certain bar enough times.]

I am extrapolating, so you understand where it is going, rather than where it is today. [But] we are already working on many of these measures, and we have groups of people focused on where badges would be meaningful.

Talking about making this into a game might provoke some skepticism from people who think that’s a fad, or that business isn’t a game.

The people who push back and say it’s a fad are the people who still don’t understand how Wikipedia could come about, who still don’t understand the sheer volume of literature that says that in prediction markets, play-money markets appear to have very similar degrees of accuracy as real-money markets. Or don’t understand that the new generations coming through are very heavily predicated toward peer respect and recognition.

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Tagged: Business, Business Impact, business, collaboration, Collaboration Tools

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