Gamification for business

­ “Employees’ engagement has evolved from money oriented approaches (pay-check, bonus, promotion) to a complex and diverse approach based on intrinsic motivational theory (mastery, autonomy, purpose)”

A current trend on supporting user engagement is gamification. Gamification is a concept of using game mechanics to non-game environments to create an engagement process to allow users to obtain higher perceived value of service use, such as social interaction or productivity of actions.

The game mechanics are closely related to game design addressing the human motivators of socializing, learning, mastery, competition, achievement and status. Gamification, deriving from game design, has the same underlying goal:

Generate positive experiences for the players/users engaged in an activity where interactive play is also referred to as “gameplay” focuses on the process of use, rather on the results of the process

The psychological aspects of gaming, i.e the user experience (UX) and the game mechanics are the tools for structuring and providing the gameplay, and comprise of rules, defined behaviour and user actions.

At present, the maximum impact of gamification has been on education and health environments. However, the gamification strategy is a concept emerging in business processes, and in particular in internal management of employees.

Gamification, following the structure of the gameplay (rules, defined behavior and user actions), can influence employees’ behaviour due to its use of motivational drivers of reinforcements and emotions:

  • Both positive and negative reinforcements encourage repetition of behaviours: behaviour leading to a satisfying outcome is likely to be repeated, while behaviour leading to an unsatisfying outcome is less likely to be sustained
  • Emotions effect users’ behaviour on whether they want to continue the activity or not. A mix of emotions is important for the user’s engagement. You need to have both positive emotions such as excitement, amusement, personal triumph etc. and negative emotions such as disappointment not achieving a reward to create a state of engagement

Successful gamification involves repetition of behaviours: by providing rewards and emotional responses for users following particular behaviours, then that can become an automatic user process or habit.

For example, I was recently asked by a client in the automotive industry to explain where and how these concepts could be applied in a scenario of motivating dealers to follow procedure.

In this context, the gamified business process can be utilised in influencing the desired behaviour – dealers to follow the same rules and procedures (business goal) and be rewarded for their effort to do so (repetitive behaviour).

The simplest game mechanics used here could be the ones relevant to competition and rewards which can take the shape of recognition status in a company’s dealer’s leader-board (emotional response on the high status among peers) and extend to dealers understand business processes as a result.

All organisations need to motivate and engage their employees – performance, teams’ collaboration and customer service are dependent on employee’s engagement.

In the example of automotive industry and the dealers’ network, the business depends on whether or not each dealer is mentally and emotionally focused on the company’s goal of following procedure, that goal is fundamental for the business success. Gamification can be an approach on achieving this. Taking lessons from the game domain, an effective gamified experience can motivate the users behaviour based on the desired business rules and goals, while increase users’ engagement participating in that experience.

Is it time for a game?

Leave a reply below or contact me by email.

Broaching the final frontier of unstructured data – the contents of our heads

When asked what we want, most of us struggle to break free from the chains of practicality. This default mental setting provides a defence against disappointment, but also a limit to progress.

For example, if you ask marketers what customer insights they would like, the likely response is a better version – more complete, accurate, timely, granular – of what they already have. But if asked for an idealised list – no constraints – then the list would look very different. The dream for any marketer would be to know at any given moment what each customer wants to feel or be, what they think they need to do or own to achieve that objective, how they plan to act so as to make it happen, how much they are prepared to spend, how far are they prepared to search or travel, etc. Think of the type of insights you would get if you had sensors reading the thoughts, perceptions, hopes, fears, ideals and ideas in every potential customer’s head.

Far fetched? Less than you might think thanks to digital technology.

We already have a sensor semi-permanently attached to our fingertips in the form of a smartphone; and increasingly ones attached to our wrists or faces in the form of smart watches and smart glasses.  (As a result mobile operators will take an increasing share of the customer insight value chain from traditional market research techniques, possibly even creating the next giant of the analytics industry in the process if one of the leaders successfully emulates what Tesco achieved.)

Equally, via social media people have the opportunity to express their happiness and frustration (and other emotions) as they are experiencing them while sharing what they are experiencing via photos or live streaming.

Finally, there is gamification.  Social gaming sites provide a real live environment for testing ideas with target customer groups to yield instinctive responses (those that dictate purchase behaviour for many products) rather than the considered responses that survey-based research typically yields.  Gamification techniques can also be used within surveys to increase both response levels and quality.

How gamification can help businesses glean insights from the final frontier of unstructured data – the contents of our heads – is the subject of a further article on insight advantage… coming soon.

What do you think? Leave a reply below or contact me by email.