As gamification continues to gain momentum in the business world today, it’s not surprising that M2 Research predicts the gamification market will reach 2.8 billion in direct spending in the US by 2016. But what is it that businesses are looking to have gamification accomplish for them? Gamification, the application of game design and mechanics to non-game activities, is enticing businesses with its ability to encourage skill development, to influence behaviors, and to enable innovation. Let’s take a look at how gamification can achieve positive outcomes in these areas for your business.
1. Employee Skill Development
Add the word “challenge” to any activity, and people, through our competitive and goal-seeking human nature, become intrigued. The use of game-like elements can transform a corporate training program from something employees have to do, to something they want to do. Today’s emerging workforce has grown up with video gaming, therefore making it a promising channel for promoting job training.
The two main approaches to gamifying a training program, according to Gartner:
- Create a game layer to be played after the lesson material is presented, incorporating points systems, levels, and badges to encourage competition. This approach tests the knowledge the employee has gained from the lesson.
- Turn the lesson itself into a game that uses not only points, levels, and badges, but also simulation and animation in order to create a virtual environment where trainees can acquire and practice new skills. The Army, CIA, and FBI all utilize this type of game with great success, as they create simulations designed for new recruits in order to prepare them for actual scenarios they will face on the job.
2. Customer and Employee Behavior Change
Games are appealing to people. By using a game as a way of interacting with a target audience, a business has a greater chance of influencing their behavior in ways that satisfy their business goals, since people are drawn to and encouraged by games.
- Use gaming elements to get customers to interact with your products, whether online or in a store using geolocation on their mobile device. Award them points, allow them to virtually customize your products, and let them spend points towards getting new products. This can increase their loyalty and turn them into advocates for your brand.
- Use gaming elements to change customer behaviors so they can bring down your costs. Health insurance companies have created games that inspire their customers to get healthy, thus reducing medical bills the company has to cover. Users track their progress and record key health metrics like blood sugar levels and weight loss. Based on whether they reach their health goals, they can win rewards.
- Motivate your employees to complete mundane tasks like filling out timesheets, expense reports, and employee feedback forms by turning it into a game. Create employee profiles, choose avatars, and reward desired behavior.
- Employ gamified competition across your enterprise, as sales departments have long been doing. Include results-tracking, leaderboards, and rewards as ways to stimulate productivity.
- Use social networking elements to immerse your employees in the gamified experience, making it one of shared success and competition.
3. Business Innovation
Businesses can use game mechanics to motivate and inspire their teams to participate in innovation. Gartner says games designed to enable innovation are set up as a defined space of play, with specific game rules and tools, but which have an end-point that is deliberately unknown. That is because the company wants to challenge employees to think outside the box in order to solve the problems in the game, promoting critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. Accomplish this by:
- Setting up an open-ended game that allows users to arrive at their own conclusions. By not leading users through a scripted game path and end-point, you allow users to explore new ideas and possibilities that can lead to so many different innovative outcomes.
- Having lots of players engaged in the game in order to allow more possible ideas and solutions to be uncovered for the business.
- Ensuring the challenge is well-articulated and directly connected to your business’s goals and objectives. The motivations of the enterprise, the stakeholder, and the teams involved must all be aligned in order for gamification to succeed in stimulating innovation.
Whether it be to revitalize your corporate training program, to engage with customers and employees, or to encourage innovation, gamification can be applied across the enterprise to positively impact your business operations.
For more information and ideas on gamification in the enterprise, attend next week’s gamification event organized by OFS and hosted by the New Jersey Tech Council:
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Look out for future postings from OFS on gamification and how to ensure your gamified apps won’t fail when put into use!