Business Leader recently sat down with Chris Jeffries, the CEO and founder of Dev Clever, a national software company that is driving the gamification revolution in business throughout the UK. Jeffries talks about how the modern workplace is changing, the growth of VR, and how tech is helping plug the skills gap.
Can you give our readers an overview of Dev Clever?
Dev Clever is a software innovation business established in 2013 that helps enterprises respond to rapid changes in technology by bringing the latest digital solutions to industries worldwide. Over the last six years, we have been working in collaboration with brands, retailers, educators and employers, and we have invested over £1.5m in the development of a suite of innovative platforms which we believe are transformational to the current processes they disrupt within their market sectors.
In January 2019 we joined the London Stock Exchange, with a clear strategy to drive the future growth of the business globally through new and existing strategic commercial partnerships.
How has gamification changed the workplace?
Gamification has been used with varying degrees of success for business improvement and environmental change across a variety of sectors to improve productivity or motivate employees to complete tasks they might otherwise not prioritise.
Many big companies have embraced games to make their workers better trained especially as technology continues to modify traditional roles. Others have introduced gamification to keep workers focused on their jobs, or to improve products and services – Google and Microsoft, for example, created games designed to increase worker morale, quality control and productivity.
Virtual reality when used in work or school environment is also a great empowerment tool; we are currently rolling out a platform that engages a youth audience. Millennials have adopted technology in their lifetime whereby Generation Z will be the pioneers of this technology in the future. Dev Clever believes that in order to retain information, it is important to experience, and Virtual Reality presents scenarios that are not otherwise available to users.
What latest innovations have you introduced to the industry?
Launchpad is an intuitive platform designed to revolutionise the current careers advisory programme in schools and put the user in control. The young person is the focus of the platform, allowing them to discover careers that match their interests and personality. The platform guides them through the process of discovery resulting in aligning them with a career that is right for their personal characteristics. Launchpad presents vocational and apprenticeship study options to the user, and will also highlight specific courses in locations they can study in. The user doesn’t have to leave the platform, and can apply directly to the institutions that are highlighted as a match to them.
Currently, Dev Clever are rolling Launchpad out across the UK to schools. As an investment into the future of careers, we are offering this as a free platform to underpin the careers programmes currently available in schools. The real draw for schools at present is that Launchpad has been designed to adhere to the eight Gatsby Benchmarks (there is a government requirement for all schools to focus towards attaining the eight benchmarks) and by implementing Launchpad into their careers curriculum they are already meeting the criteria.
We believe currently there is an engagement crisis surrounding the targeting and successful engagement of young people. With this in mind, we have created, via VR, the world’s first interactive virtual reality careers guidance robot VICTAR (Virtual Interactive Careers Training & Apprenticeship Robot). VICTAR is designed specifically to engage with school children and immerse them in impartial careers information as part of a school’s careers guidance programme.
VICTAR has been developed in parallel with Launchpad to engage the user and show them around the platform. VICTAR is used to narrate and guide the young person throught the personality quiz, give instructions and immerse them into Launchpad. The VR experience brings to life their animal personality, and offers more than careers guidance.
Developed in conjunction with key partners and utilising credible resources, such as government backed Labour Market Information (LMI), Launchpad and Victar take the young person through an immersive, guided virtual reality journey to discover their personality and interests. The user can then explore, through full 360-degree environments, the careers and training opportunities that suit them the most. Once they arrive at their chosen career, they can see statistics and information about the career such as how much they could earn, the predicted growth by region as well as video content of people in the role with insights into their work environments.
They can see the colleges, universities, apprenticeship providers and employers that offer the next step in their chosen career path. The personal dashboard allows the young person to keep up to date with information relating to their chosen career at the same time as allowing the school to keep a record of each individual pupil’s future choices, ensuring they remain focused on their career goal.
The step change platform is aimed at tackling the critical national issue of bridging the skills gap, which the government estimates will cost the UK taxpayer £90bn per year by 2024.
How are blue-chip companies adapting to gamification?
Gamification in business has existed for a number of years without gaining widespread adoption. However, with UK productivity having experienced a rapid drop, it is clear there is change required in the way we engage, learn, and embark upon our career paths. Recent technological development means there is more potential than ever before to create effective gamification situations using real-time analytics, VR, AR, cloud-services and social media platforms.
Essentially, humans perform better when they are enjoying themselves, so while sceptics might view gamification as the latest corporate buzzword, it does, in fact, have tangible business benefits— and the global gamification market is predicted to be worth $22.9bn by 2022. There are good opportunities for business leaders to tap into the fact that games are one of the most predominant and influential communications and entertainment mediums on the planet, and organisations can improve engagement with employees or students, and witness greater user satisfaction, as well as the improved outcome of initiatives.
How can it be improved?
Gamification has the potential to become a useful and integral part of the workplace, but it needs to be done right. It’s crucial that gamification is not being applied as a substitute to good management- leaders must ensure that there are still real work and real outcomes being seen as a result of gamification processes.
Before starting out on the gamification process, organisations need to ensure their goals using such tools are clear and a match with the company culture. Monitoring gamification results then allows leaders to see if desired outcomes are being met. Organisations must also ensure they are not ‘gaming’ workers so that employees feel their work is being enhanced but that they are not being exploited or manipulated in any way. Using money as a motivator is therefore a bad idea, since extrinsic rewards rarely work- making money would make the activity about simply that and not about the work involved.
In today’s world, where time and attention are becoming increasingly valuable, people are more likely to be attracted by activities that are fulfilling and rewarding, and with which they feel they are gleaning opportunities to learn and grow, making gamification more important than ever if implemented for the right reasons and leveraged effectively.
Can it help plug the skills gap?
VICTAR is being used to create a more immersive careers guidance experience for students, and they are able to select a career path that is best suited to them based on their personality and interests. The gamification of this tool means that students are engaged, empowered and are able to experience a journey of discovery. This means that they tend to select choices with more honesty resulting in a high level of completion of the assessment and a more accurate picture of their career options that is personal to them.
Getting students into the right career from the outset is crucial, not only for their personal successes, but also for the economy. Research from the LGA has shown that 12 million people could be caught in a skills gap by 2024, precipitated by high numbers of low-skilled workers present the job market in an environment where there are millions of high-skilled jobs available, without people to do them. This skills crisis could result in £90bn of economic growth being lost.
It is clear, then, that there is a need for improved career instruction, and leveraging technology to bring more structure to the career-choice process is a good step in the right direction. Gamification processes that create a more immersive guide to career choices means educators can better develop students and adequately prepare the workers of the future.