News Column

"Peer Support Gamification by Application Knowledge Scoring in Social Networks" in Patent Application Approval Process

February 13, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Computer Weekly News -- A patent application by the inventors Eberlein, Peter (Malsch, DE); Said, Bare (Sankt Leon-ROT, DE), filed on July 19, 2012, was made available online on January 30, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Washington, D.C., by VerticalNews correspondents.

This patent application is assigned to Sap Ag.

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "An application is a term used in computing to define a software program or group of programs that perform a function. A business application is software that carries out a business function such as, for example, accounting or payroll. Business applications are used to increase productivity, to measure productivity and to perform business functions accurately.

"For home or small office use, business applications may, for example, include home accounting software, and office suites for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, and databases. For medium size office or business use, business applications may, for example, include applications in the fields of accounting, groupware, customer relationship management, human resources software, outsourcing relationship management, loan origination software, shopping cart software, and field service software. For large businesses or enterprise use, business applications may, for example, include applications in the fields of enterprise resource planning, enterprise content management (ECM), business process management (BPM) and product lifecycle management. Business applications can be extensive in scope, and often come with modules that either add native functions or incorporate the functionality of third-party software programs. Business applications may be installed either on desktops or on big servers. Business applications can have interactive user-application interfaces. Users may be able to query, modify, input or enter data and view results via the interactive user-application interfaces.

"Modem business applications, whether built in-house or bought from vendors (off the shelf software products), are large complex products. The business application products may be accompanied by extensive technical documentation and large manuals, which in practice are often too complex or arcane for users of the products to peruse or understand. Users need extensive (and expensive) training to be able to use these complex products. However, even experienced or trained users of these business application products often encounter difficulties and situations in which they do not know how to properly use features or components of these products. Knowledge about using these features or components may be too specialized. If the users are unable to find answers to questions about the features or components of the business application products on their own, they may have to rely on technical support from the product vendors. To answer user questions, vendors may have to provide specialized technical support, around the clock, and often across different time zones in which the products may be used. From a product vendor's perspective, specialized technical support, apart from adding to costs, is difficult to staff or provide. In practice, from the user's perspective, technical support from product vendors, even if available, is often time-consuming, difficult, unreliable and frustrating to get. Users often are on their own, or have to rely on informal support from non-specialist co-workers or friends, to get answers to their questions about the features or components of the business application products.

"Consideration is now being given to ways of enabling users to gain knowledge of the features or components of the business applications in a practical and effective manner."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent application, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "A process for providing technical support to users of a business application is based on knowledge and expertise sharing by peer users. Upon user opt-in or permission, user-application interactions are monitored and tracked over time. The tracking data can show, for example, how often, how quickly and how error-free a user operates a particular component of the business application. Users with superior knowledge and expertise in operating the particular component of the business application are identified by analysis of the tracking data. These users can be voluntarily identified as experts on a social network of peer users and may be available to help other users with answers to questions about the business application.

"In a general aspect, a computer-based system allows subscribing users to share knowledge on operating components of a business application with their peers. The system includes an application usage recorder, a user history database and a scoring unit. The application usage recorder is configured to track, over time, users' operation of individual components of the business application and log tracking data on ways in which different users operate individual components of the business application over time in the user history database. The scoring unit is configured to evaluate the tracking data stored in the user history database to determine each user's knowledge and proficiency in operating a particular component of the business application and to accordingly assign a proficiency score to each user for knowledge and proficiency in operating the particular component of the business application.

"It will be understood that the computer-based system may track a user's operation of the business application, and store, analyze, share or publish any user data only with the user's consent or permission. Suitable authorization procedures may be deployed get the user's express permission or opt-in consent. For example, the business application may include settings or controls by which users can control tracking, storing, analyzing, sharing or publishing of their data. The controls may, for example, be hosted within or directly linked from the application, or separately presented on a user-interface by the computer system. The authorization procedures may include a mechanism by which the user can later opt out or rescind permissions.

"The computer-based system is implemented by instructions recorded on a non-transitory computer readable storage medium and executable by at least one processor

"In a social network related aspect, the scoring unit of the computer-based system is configured to publish the users' proficiency scores for knowledge and proficiency in operating the particular component of the business application on a social network. In another social network related aspect, the scoring unit is configured to employ a gamification technique on the social network to motivate users to gain expert status in operating components of the business application.

"In another aspect, the computer-based system includes a score reporting unit, which is configured to append the users' proficiency scores for knowledge and proficiency in operating the particular component of the business application to searchable user profiles on a social network.

"In another aspect, the computer-based system includes an expert finder unit configured to search user profiles on the social network by proficiency score to identify one or more experts with knowledge and proficiency in operating the particular component of the business application.

"In a general aspect, a computer-implemented method involves tracking over time users' operation of individual components of a business application, and storing tracking data over time on ways in which different users operate individual components of the business application in a user history database. The method further involves evaluating the stored tracking data in the user history database to determine each user's knowledge and proficiency in operating a particular component of the business application, and accordingly assigning a proficiency score to each user for knowledge and proficiency in operating the particular component of the business application. In another aspect, the method involves publishing the users' proficiency scores for knowledge and proficiency in operating the particular component of the business application on a social network. In another aspect, the method employs a gamification technique on the social network to motivate users to increase their proficiency scores for knowledge and proficiency in operating components of the business application. In yet another aspect, the method involves searching searchable user profiles by proficiency score to identify one or more expert users with knowledge and proficiency in operating the particular component of the business application. These expert users may be available to help answer questions from other users about the particular component of the business application.

"The foregoing computer-implemented method is carried out by causing at least one processor to execute instructions recorded on a computer-readable storage medium,

"In a general aspect, a computer program product embodied in non-transitory computer-readable media includes executable code, which code when executed tracks over time users' operation of individual components of a business application and stores tracking data on ways in which different users operate individual components of the business application. Further, the code when executed evaluates the stored tracking data to determine each user's knowledge and proficiency in operating a particular component of the business application and accordingly, assigns a proficiency score to each user for knowledge and proficiency in operating the particular component of the business application.

"The details of one or more implementations are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features will be apparent from the description and drawings, and from the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustration of an example computer-based system for users to share knowledge on components of a business application with their peers, in accordance with principles of the disclosure herein.

"FIG. 2 is a flow diagram illustration of an example method for providing peer support to users of a business applications who need help with operating components of a business application, in accordance with principles of the disclosure herein."

URL and more information on this patent application, see: Eberlein, Peter; Said, Bare. Peer Support Gamification by Application Knowledge Scoring in Social Networks. Filed July 19, 2012 and posted January 30, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=838&p=17&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140123.PD.&OS=PD/20140123&RS=PD/20140123

Keywords for this news article include: Sap Ag, Software.

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Source: Computer Weekly News


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