In light of this growing trend, we discuss below the impact that gamification can have on IT businesses.
Gamification has seen a huge rise in popularity over recent years, with the sports and technology industries paving the way for implementation in business. Admittedly, incorporating elements of competition and fun into business processes is nothing new, but its reception among business leaders, employees and consumers has not always been positive. With some critics calling gamification a fad and employee and consumer uptake often low, for a while the future of business gameplay looked bleak. Fortunately, with new developments in digital technology and the introduction of in-depth testing, success is now being achieved and tangible results delivered.
How do we define gamification?
Gamification is the incorporation, implementation or application of ‘game-playing elements’ in business processes in order to achieve measurable goals. In basic terms, businesses introduce elements such as point scoring, rules of play and competition into internal processes for employees or external processes such as marketing reward schemes for consumers in an attempt to achieve real world results. These results can involve anything ranging from greater staff productivity and improved employee satisfaction to increased user engagement.
Simply creating staff league tables or customer reward programmes are not enough to be considered gamification. It needs to have clear objectives, people need to understand how to participate and feel ownership and have choices when they do, understanding their progress and feeling part of something bigger or something social. They need to care about the reward. This should be obvious, but is surprisingly often lost in the process of ideation.
Of course, early adopters in the tech industry aren’t the only ones who could benefit from gamification. All businesses and industries can incorporate these aspects into their processes, and successful implementation has already been demonstrated in companies including Nike and Volkswagen’s Fun Theory.
Gamification Can Deliver Faster Feedback
Collecting any form of feedback, whether from customers, partners or even employees, can be excruciatingly slow and labour-intensive. Adding gamification to the mix, however, can help improve the speed of responses. In this case, creating incentives for ‘players’ to be more engaged and responsive can help to achieve the results you need whilst increasing participants’ satisfaction through the use of rewards. In the same way that incentivisation can work better with multiple prizes released over time rather than one larger prize with a set deadline.
Gamification Can Improve Engagement
Mundane daily tasks or routine processes can be made more engaging by incorporating an element of gameplay. By involving staff in the design and encouraging employees to set and stick to their goals, whether they are work-related or personal goals makes them easier to achieve.. When an individual feels they have ownership and that participation is personal to them there is greater accountability which can also result in better Business relationships, particularly as they also have a new talking point, their performance, experience and opinion of the gamified programme. Employees feel more appreciated and invested in their work because they have a greater sense that their contributions matter.
Gamification Helps Eliminate the Fear of Change and Promote Learning
The adoption of gamification can be transformational for businesses, particularly in the tech and IT sectors. Although the introduction of new technology is commonplace and expected within these sectors, adoption can still be difficult. Gamification can help business leaders monumentally because people are more likely to do something if it involves some element of fun. Rolling out change slowly, individual by individual, supporting staff with extra training when needed and creating internal league tables with incentives can dramatically transform staff motivation levels and perceptions of business change, turning fear to positive adoption.
Education around topics for which buy-in is typically difficult such as change management, compliance and regulation can be at least partially improved if we can use gamification to remove barriers. Fun serves as a strong motivating factor for participants to do more.
Rather than ask staff to read new policy information and training documents or attend lengthy presentations Kingfisher Plc (parent company of the B&Q, Brico Depot and Screwfix) developed a way for their staff to learn more about pensions using gamification. Even something as simple as an interactive quiz is more engaging than consuming information as part of their learning process. The game element cannot ultimately detract from the overall goal, but communicating results and highlighting success also encourages healthy competition and progress towards universal goals
Whilst also offering staff the ability to track their progress much of this can be automated to give people the prod or encouragement they need when required, however consideration needs to be given to ensure it’s done in the right way.
Gamification Can Help to Achieve Goals
By introducing gamification, businesses are able to break down an organisation’s long-term goals into short, manageable challenges that are more notable and achievable for staff. Businesses can assign rewards to goals giving incentives for employees or consumers to take part, engage and achieve results faster and with better accuracy. In 2013 Google had 40,000 contributors to Google Maps – people who review, take photos and verify information. In November 2015 Google launched a whole host of rewards for these contributors, and in the 12 months that followed Google achieved contributions from “more than five million people in 235 countries”.
Applications for the IT industry may not be immediately clear. It is sometimes easy to becoming accepting of processes and not look to innovate, despite the fact the technology around us is all about innovation.
Start with the problem not the solution
The most important factor for IT and technology businesses to consider when planning and implementing gameplay into processes is the question of ‘why?’ Doing so simply because it’s ‘fun’ is not a good enough reason for business leaders to decide to create an app or loyalty rewards scheme. If businesses are trying to initiate change, ‘entertainment’ and incentives will not succeed on their own.
Gamification begins with asking the question ‘why?’ Why are customers not engaging with our new campaign or product? Why are employees not productive? Why do staff not feel satisfied in their roles? Once you answer these, it becomes easier to incorporate gameplay elements successfully and reap their benefits.