Thursday, March 01, 2007

But Seriosly...

Seriosity are copping some flak for their unique approach to trying to solve the collaboration problem in the enterprise, in an increasingly information cluttered world.

The application, called 'Attent', works by attaching virtual currency (called 'Serios') to an outlook email. By setting the amount of Serios attached to an email, an information worker can indicate how 'precious' that email is. The Serios, once received, can then be bartered, exchanged, or used to reward employees - (how about spent in an online auction for a week of one developers time..., or used as brownie points towards a raise, or whatever)

While the comments over on TechCrunch seem to universally chastise the approach, I think that these guys are on to something. We need to realise that enterprises are made up of people, not automatons. Rather than mandating corporate behaviour and re-enforcing it with a big stick, the most nimble and effective organizations are going to be the ones that match up processes with the way people are.

Again, if we take Simon's Post on the TOWER Software blog - he obviously doesn't want to file stuff. If left to his own devices, he certainly wouldn't. The system that caters to his laziness is going to result in him being more effective than one that forces unfamiliar behaviour on him. Where Seriosity is concerned, we know that people like to measure things - particularly how favorably they compare with other people. By trying to engineer an enterprise system that plays into the way people instinctively want to behave, they're trying to get more value from their workers.

Trying to replicate the learning curve from modern consumer video games, as Dean says, is not a bad thing - I can't think of many other software forms where the manual is completely irrelevant. (for 'work' enterprise software, remember that even if nobody reads it in Userland, you can guarantee that the help desk guys read it religiously...)

Creating compelling work environments where people can do their work without forcing themselves away from their instinctive behaviour has to be a solid strategy. Lots of those comments were from web 2.0 entrepreneurs saying "Why did they get millions in VC funding for that?"

Leaving aside the question of whether sending Serios with your emails is a good idea, I can see why these guys got the money.

It's because they're trying to engineer the people, not the systems.


  1. I think I can see this idea really working. I think it would be very hard to bring into a workplace, but once it was there, I think you'd find it would work really well.

  2. Anonymous8:22 am

    Another great example of this is the "Mardi Gras bead flash" Urban Dictionary. Ask a girl to show you their boobs normally you would probably get slapped, offer them some cheap shiny beads and tell them everyone else is doing it then no problem. She who passes out with the most beads ('Serios') wins!

    (Sorry Gordo, I had to bring this down to my level so people could truly appreciate the idea)