Corporate Compliance Is a Game for Cristobal Conde

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Using video games to enforce corporate standards can be a new concept for lots of people, especially since most of us were raised to see video games as a distraction from more serious pursuits. But gaming's ability to grab and hold attention has uses in the corporate world, and that's where former SunGard CEO Cristobal Conde comes in.

Conde, who for about a decade was CEO of SunGard, a large provider of tech products for financial services firms, recently arrived at True Office as executive chairman. True Office is a New York-based firm that uses "gamification" to make education and other communications with employees less formal and more fun.

True Office's games help companies reduce risk by teaching staff about regulatory compliance issues, anti-money laundering, data breach prevention and office policies. The firm hopes to reach the "mandatory training market." The firm, which charges its clients on a subscription basis, uses a software development kit to build applications internally. These applications are delivered to mobile and desktop devices using Flash animation software, HTML5 (a markup language used to present web content across different devices) and mobile operating systems. The full device coverage allows training to take place remotely, for instance when staffers are waiting in airports or otherwise detained and can't perform regular work. The costs are about the same or less than other training programs because many the topics — such as anti-money laundering — are based on federal regulations that are largely the same from one bank to another, so about 75 percent of the training is common. The games are scenario based, and operate more like an episode of a crime drama than a social gaming program. Conde, who while CEO took SunGard private and led it through a series of acquisitions, spoke with BTN on Friday morning about his new job.

BTN: Why is it a good idea to use gaming for compliance training?

Conde: You can increase engagement on a dry subject, and it will make more of a difference when it comes to people retaining information. When you think about the amount of money that something like a data breach costs, it's important to have people who really are trained to spot risks and prevent breaches.

What's the problem with prevailing online desktop training sessions?

They are pretty stiff. And the sessions usually teach you the lowest common denominator — what you should never do, things that will result in you going to jail or your company getting fined. And it's often the kind of software that's easy to game, if you pardon the pun. You can quickly find out that if you press 'enter' every eight seconds or so, you can move on to the next step and complete the training while you're doing something else. As a CEO, I was frustrated by the courses we would have to put employees through. I saw [compliance training] as a missed opportunity. As a CEO of a firm you want to reaffirm core values, and encourage good corporate citizenship.

How can something like anti-money laundering or data theft prevention be turned into a game?

I think a better analogy is a comic book. The training throws you into a situation and you have to make choices about your next move or a response. Sometimes a good guy turns out to be a bad guy who's trying to trick you into doing something that's beyond the line of the corporations rules. The situations and plots have been used by comic book writers for years. Let's say you are put into the middle of a data breach. What do you do? By the end of the course, the good guys have won and a lesson has been learned.

How do you measure success?

There are quizzes on the corporate policy that people take before and after the training program to measure learning and progress. The testing is also designed to spot lower performance and recommend who should go on for remedial training.

Beyond anti-money laundering and data breaches, what other types of compliance are covered?

There's more general workplace compliance, such as harassment at work. Also, we cover IT security and being careful about the data that you put in your devices.

What kind of internal talent have you found at True Office?

It's fascinating to come from a more straight-laced software company. At True Office, a good chunk of the employees are people who write cartoons. It works a lot like a studio where there are a lot of creative people. So it's a lot of fun.

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