Soccer team in a huddle

Future of Work: Game on!

October 31, 2016 by Celine Burgle, Patrick Robinson, Corinna Machmeier

How a virtual game helps new hires get onboard at SAP – and with whatever else they need.

Caipei Song started at SAP in August 2016 as associate developer. It’s his first job after graduating from university and he enjoys it. But joining the world of SAP can be quite a culture shock. “At the beginning it was not easy for me to get to know the company because I was not sure where to start,” remembers Caipei.

This is where the Global Development Program for Early Talents comes in. Early talents – hired graduates with up to two-years post-graduation and non-professional experience – join a program where they gain access to the foundational skills they need, and build a sense of community. SAP has ‘gamified’ the traditional learning offerings for new early talent colleagues.

Have Fun and Learn

“I’m also a gamer in my private life. That’s why I was hooked by the SAP learning game. Unlike leisure computer games, this one is intended not only for fun but also for learning,” says Caipei.

Rather than learning in a linear way, gamers solve mission challenges. Each mission is linked to an industry and introduces the player/student to SAP customers in that industry.

The first mission, for example, is about food. In the future we have solved world hunger and the food chain from production to supply is seamless. The problem is that the diversity of food types has reduced significantly. The student needs to find out why, and expand the available food types.

As the learners progress, they earn points and badges. They can earn extra points with games in each mission. To make it more challenging, some games are hidden and require creative thinking.

The gamers also interact with each other sharing and reflecting on their experiences with colleagues on SAP Jam, or taking action with a ‘Go-Do’. An example of ‘Go-Do’ is scheduling a development check-in conversation with their manager, so they can apply their learning on-the-job. Currently, the game has more than 700 active players.


Top 5 Gamer Facts

  • The video game industry is valued at $70 billion worldwide.
  • ‘Atari is a Japanese word that actually means success.
  • Pac-Man was invented by the designer Toru Iwatani while he was eating pizza.
  • The average game player is 31 years old and has been playing games for 14 years.
  • 48 % of all game players are women.

Part of a Bigger Picture

For Caipei, the learning game is a necessity rather than a luxury.

“It is hard for me to sit down and read through several papers to look for information. Playing the game is much more engaging. You can solve puzzles and quizzes or watch videos while you move forward. The landscape is very visual: a virtual microbiological cell system. Finally, I also like the competition. When I found out that there was a leaderboard I wanted to get on top.”

“There are many claims about millennials in terms of trends and their wants,” says Jennifer Prevoznik, global head of Early Talent Acquisition at SAP. “The truth is, like any other employee they want purposeful work and want to be recognized when they excel. But we have to make sure that we have the tools and technology in place so they are set for success.”

Like any other employee millennials want purposeful work and want to be recognized when they excel

Using games to help  introduce new employees to a company is an example of what  the future of work may look like, particularly as prioritizing the right learning platform for diverse requirements becomes more important. But having the right platform is not enough. Caipei has made it to the top of the game leader board, but still says it is no substitute for dialogue with his colleagues and learning from their shared experiences.

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