The Gamification of Arkatechture

by Amy Elliott, on October 11, 2016

We Should All Be Data Developers

Typical consulting agencies will send in large teams to solve problems.  For a typical data management project, they may send an engagement manager, a project manager, a business analyst, a data integration developer, a dba, a tester, a data analyst, an infrastructure engineer, a data scientist and a visualization analyst.  Phew, that's a team of TEN people.  Here at Arkatechture, we like to go into these companies and replace teams of ten with teams of 2-3 people. 


In order to do that, we need to make sure that we cross-train everyone extensively, share knowledge across engagements and never get complacent within a specialized role.  I started at Arkatechture with an assumed specialization in data visualization.  For the first year or so I learned everything I could about how to use visualization to help people understand their data, and helped grow out our team of vizzers.  At a normal company, this could have been my entire career, but for the last year I have spent the majority of my time doing data integration and building data conformance layers.  Anyone you talk to who has been at Arkatechture for more than a year will tell a similar story.  We like to say that we want everyone at Arkatechture to not have any specialized titles, and have everyone just be a "data developer."

But How Do We Get There?!

Since this is so ingrained in our culture, we decided to start a gamified way to recognize Arkabots on their quest to being a true data developer and help understand what the steps are.  As we're all Fitbit enthusiasts and active in many software communities that reward good behavior with badges, we decided to create our own!  We have badges for difficulty levels varying from "Noob" to "Mastermind" with everything in between.  We also categorize badges by concentration to show the breadth of everyone's skills!  For example, our "Data Integration" concentration has the following badges:  


 And of course, we can't do anything without creating a viz!  Our viz shows which badges each person and the company as a whole has and the score leaderboard by team member.  We launched this program last week and allowed people to nominate themselves or a teammate for badges, and here's what we're looking at so far for a viz:




The system itself is driven by a SQL Server instance that we've built a web app around for requests, approvals and badge creation.  We can't wait to start using it for career development and, of course, for some more healthy competition in the office :) 




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