Thursday "Open Mic" Guest Speaker Series: Ben Waber - CEO, Sociometric Solutions

Thursday "Open Mic" Guest Speaker Series: Ben Waber - CEO, Sociometric Solutions

  • 11 May 2012

“I don’t care what the current processes are. Never stop looking for ways to do things better.” – Venkat Kolluri - CEO, Chitika Inc.

As a product of our CEO’s philosophy, we have a weekly tradition here at Chitika to invite a business or industry thought leader join us for family lunch on Thursday afternoons to talk about their work, research or business, and hold an informal discussion with us Chitikans. In the past, we’ve welcomed technologists, charity-focused entrepreneurs, and this week, we brought in MIT Media Lab alum and Harvard Senior Researcher Ben Waber. Largely stemming from his work at these area academic powerhouses, Ben is also the CEO of Sociometric Solutions, a management consulting company that is turning the industry on its head. As Ben explained, the heart of his companies work is based around the sociometric badge – a technology he and the Sociometric Solutions team helped develop at the Media Lab during the late 2000’s. This device, the size of a small digital camera, is worn by an organization’s employees to physically measure organizational dynamics. Namely:

  • Who a person is talking to (but not what they are talking about)
  • How that person is talking (involved, disengaged, interrupting, thought provoking etc.)
  • Generally where you are in the workplace
These features are all thanks to the badges’ integration of an infrared transmitter, BlueTooth, motion sensors and a microphone. The company’s philosophy of an ‘opt-in’ model still leads to participation rates of close to 90%, and anonymity and privacy are held in the highest regard, including the inability for the badges to physically record conversations and personal statistics never being shared with superiors.

The results they’ve seen from applying the lessons from their insights are truly astounding:

  • A 25% increase in call processing rate at a Bank of an America call center simply by overlapping employee breaks rather than staggering them. This strategy is in the process of being rolled out by BofA to all of its nationwide call centers.
  • Increasing sales revenue by 30% thanks to raising the level of face-to-face interaction between different departments at a large German bank.

Chitika employees had a variety of questions ranging from possible additional features, to past experiences, to specifics on the software, and the ensuing discussion lasted well through the end of the lunch hour. Cutting edge technology like this always strikes a nerve with the company, and we were so glad to have Ben showcase the amazing work he and his team is undertaking for our whole Westborough office. Stay tuned next week for another recap, and drop us a line at press@chitika.com if you’d want to have lunch and share your experience with us!