Is Gamification paradigm suitable for your enterprise? - Part 1 of 2
Good question? Definitely a good one but I don't think that's really a right one if it is what you as a business leader is thinking about.
Right question to ask should be - "Where can Gamification make a meaningful impact inside my organization?" And reason is that while thought-leaders across the globe might be splitting the hair over definitions of the Gamification trying to make it clinically perfect and a highly 'frame-worked' paradigm, the citizens of the extra-ordinary social graph out there are progressively redefining how the digital engagement will rule the world - an inevitable shift that will penetrate the enterprise boundaries without much corporate control available to exercise. And that's the part of the story that makes all the difference for choices that enterprises need to make.
While interacting with the business leaders on the Gamification possibilities in their enterprises, I observed wide variety of emotions ranging from 'What has this got to be with my business?' to 'We can't allow games inside enterprise' to 'Show me how it helps in my industry' and many similar. Broadly, I can sum up all different emotions pertaining to the adoption of the Gamification into following two categories:
Category 1 - These enterprises either have the displaced interpretation of what Gamification really is or they are yet to unearth this paradigm in their business context. As a result, it doesn't exist in their priority list at all and openness to explore is nearly absent.
Category 2 - These enterprises have either already plunged into it with varied degree of seriousness or they have leaders who fairly understand what Gamification brings on the table and they are willing to create the new possibilities that their business can leverage for the future growth. More often than not, conversation with such enterprises is about exploring the high-potential specific use-cases for the business and co-creating the pilot solutions that allow the business leaders to make decisions for the bigger bets of the Gamification.
From the interaction experiences of the category 1 enterprises, I have compiled some issues that I thought will help re-orient the business leaders who might be interested in revisiting their mind-maps.
- Issue 1 - Gaming is not welcome in the enterprise
Of course! While it might be loads of fun to play computer games sponsored by the company during office hours but no, that's not what Gamification is, not at all. Search the internet and you will be flooded with the view-points explaining the difference between gaming and Gamification. Gamification doesn't promote 'games' only as an essential medium to create user engagement impact. Instead, Gamification dives deep into the behind-the-scene mechanics that make the games so engaging and stimulating. From that learning, it offers various methods that can be applied in the context of the enterprise to make user engagement much more intensive and powerful.
- Issue 2 - Gamification sounds like stuff for the marketing team
Google search of 'Gamification + marketing' returned 4,840,000 results so there is some truth in the matter. However, potential of the Gamification is not limited to the marketing alone. There are many use cases for the internal users as well as the external users where Gamification can offer innovative solutions. Diagram below provides a high level view of some of the popular Gamification solution segments for the enterprise. While there are 'off-the-shelf' use cases available as a good starting point, more often than not, it is always a discovery process for the enterprise business leaders to conduct a deep dive exercise to design unique and innovative Gamifications options that can solve some of the most challenging business effectiveness issues deeply associated with the 'people' factor.
- Issue 3 - It sounds interesting but what is the business value that justifies the adoption?
Well, this needs to be looked in a slightly different light. Gamification is not a direct/core business process solution; it is a business process effectiveness enablement solution. In simple terms, it means that the Gamification methods allow the enterprise to improve the contribution of the people involved in the business process (as the internal users or customers) and thus ensuring that the full potential of the business effectiveness is realized. Gamification methods offer an opportunity to realize the full resource potential of the people - their attention, their motivation, their network, their knowledge, skills and the intellectual capabilities. With technology automation and process quality control standards getting maxed out to deliver the business value, 'human factor mining' is already being recognized as the new avenue of the business value maximization. Already existing examples that we have seen in recent past are the social network enabled business growth and crowdsourcing enabled co-creation paradigms. Gamification is a powerful method for the 'human factor mining'. From business value perspective, the consequential impacts that can be addressed are summarized below:
- Issue 4 - Not sure who is the right person to launch this initiative inside the enterprise
This one is not so straightforward unfortunately as I see it. Gamification being a horizontal capability but having process area specific implementation requirements makes it slightly difficult to fit into the conventional program ownership models of the enterprise. Adding to that, Gamification requires integration of 5 different competency areas - human behavioral science, domain knowledge, IT application infrastructure, Gamification engineering and user experience engineering. However, given that IT has a significant role to play to realize the Gamification solutions, typically this will be sponsored by the department that would want to adopt the Gamification (say HR, Sales, Marketing etc.) as a business innovation program and will be supported by the respective IT department. Most of the enterprise don't have mature user experience engineering and Gamification engineering skills so they invariably need to take help from experts outside the organization to ensure that it is designed, architected and deployed appropriately. Role of IT becomes extremely important in terms of integrating the Gamification systems and data with the enterprise systems and data entities and providing a scalable, customizable and configurable backbone for the Gamification so that multiple departments can tap into the common infrastructure of the Gamification.
- Issue 5 - There is already stuff like loyalty programs, employee reward and recognition program etc. in the enterprise, isn't it the same?
While answer might be 'Yes, it the SAME' but that's like saying there is no point adopting ERP because we already have the homegrown systems in place. While fundamental philosophy at human psychology level might be quite the same but the specific techniques and methods used to leverage the human motivation factors are very different. The Gamification methods can be seen as the new avatar of the traditional techniques that were intended to deliver the people engagement goals; these have greater promise, higher mindshare with the new age population and offer superior user experience.
In the next part of this blog, I will focus on the category 2 and discuss some of the issues extracted from the interactions with the enterprises belonging to that category.