Easier adoption of UC through deployment of serious game

Easier adoption of UC through deployment of serious game

Quicker and easier adoption of Universal Communications through deployment of serious game
Microsoft Lync and Skype for Business connect people and make communication more effective. But what if the solution is not used to its potential? Unfortunate, because you do not take full advantage of all functionality provided by the communication tool. Adoption is an important part of the implementation process, but does not always receive the attention it deserves because most solutions are time-consuming and expensive. Serious gaming can change that by making the process more efficient and more enjoyable.

After taking the decision to implement Skype for Business (formerly known as Lync) many companies start working on the technical implementation plans straight away. Of course it is important to have the infrastructural conditions in order for the introduction, but if employees are struggling to make use of the new technology in practice, the business goals will most certainly not be achieved. A Harvard study shows that early adoption of new technology actually affects business results. Organizations that are able to integrate new technology in the most optimal way have a clear advantage over their competitors. They experience twice as much growth in revenue compared to companies that are less able to integrate technology into their work processes.

Learning pyramid
Employees, in most cases, won’t automatically adjust their practices and habits. They must be informed and instructed with regards to the new technology. This usually occurs in the form of a workshop or training, whether online or in a classroom. However, there are serious disadvantages to these traditional forms of training. To begin, they are expensive and time consuming. Every employee has to free up a day in their calendar in order to learn how to use the new application. Also, a lot of organizational effort and logistical coordination is involved arranging these training days. Second, employees experience little fun and see these training sessions as obligations. Finally, the training is usually conducted in a mock up environment, offering a significantly different surrounding from the actual user environment. The transferred knowledge will therefore not sink in. Ninety percent of what is taught in a classroom is forgotten. A fundamental fact of the ‘learning pyramid’ is that when we listen to, or read information, we are a lot less able to accurately remember the provided information as opposed to being actively involved applying and working with the information ourselves.

Active learning
Training sessions or instructions must be interesting to users. Otherwise their motivation to participate is known to decline rapidly. The focus on the fun factor in training and coaching has grown considerably in recent years. Often a game element is added to the training to make it more fun. In addition to the fun factor, a game helps people to loosen up. It creates a different atmosphere, where external and internal reality come together in a creative way. People are less hesitant to try things in a playful environment than in real life. Making a game the perfect tool to reduce barriers and freely share feelings and experiences. 

Various studies have shown that learning through play, helps information to better sink in and used more easily by the receivers. Winn (2008) argues for example, that serious games are effective because they are a form of ‘active learning’, letting the students themselves acquire the knowledge actively rather than passively receiving information. An academic review of 28 studies on the effectiveness of serious games shows that these games have actually improved the knowledge and cognitive skills of players. According to research from Wouters et al (2013) serious games make for more effective learning and better and longer remembrance of the information. These researchers compared serious games with traditional instruction methods. The positive effects of serious games increase even more when the game is combined with an engaging storyline, provided the story is related to the learning objectives.

A good example that ROI can be achieved through serious gaming, is that of the Royal Dutch Army. Asking TNO to develop a game for training soldiers in battle and during peace keeping missions. A cost effective measure, as it requires fewer people to deploy the game than would have been needed to train all the soldiers in real time. In addition, a multitude of soldiers can train simultaneously in a safe environment and they are less prone to injury as they do not have to do field exercises.

Lync and Skype for Business game
Serious games are gaining in popularity in last few years. They can also be very useful for increasing the adoption rate of applications such as Lync and Skype for Business. The adoption of Skype for Business is not an instinctive process. Using the tool requires change and willingness to learn new methods from the employees, as communication affects all aspects of their work. A serious game can help.

We therefore wanted to create a serious game to ease the adoption of Microsoft Lync and Skype for Business. In close cooperation with a number of customers and serious gaming expert IJsfontein we developed ‘Finding Victor’. In the game users actively work with Lync or Skype and have to solve an engaging mystery about the disappearance of a brilliant inventor. During their search they are assigned various challenges through which employees are playfully introduced to all of the Lync or Skype for Business functionalities and features. Upon finishing a challenge they receive a reward so that they stay motivated to complete the entire quest. All employees can play the game at their own pace and always have access to instructions and background information at the click of a button. At the end of the game the player is familiar with everything he or she can do with Lync or Skype and knows how the tool works. Confident and convinced, and all without ‘dull’ classic training.