5 Questions to Ask to Build an Effective Gamification Strategy

gaming-optionsWhile the elements that make up gamification (gaming elements, a sense of playfulness, and a focus on motivating behaviors) are nothing new, the combination is powerful. Gamification can help motivate employees to take action in a way that’s inherently interesting to them, resulting in more creative responses and greater discretionary effort. By using game design elements to accomplish day-to-day work, your company can create a sense of playfulness around routine and creative processes that can improve your overall operations. That’s why you should consider gamification as a way to stay ahead of the competition and be a leader in your industry.

5 key questions to get started

Getting started with gamification is no different from any other project. First, you need to gather information, by answering these five fundamental questions:

1. What problem you hope to solve with gamification, and more specifically, what behavior-related problem? Do you want forms to be filled out in more detail, reports to be submitted in a timelier manner, or co-workers to share more information with each other? Goals like these can be clustered under four main purposes: engaging, teaching, entertaining, and measuring.

2. Is the system to be gamified one that’s already there, such as a call center system, or a website, or is it a standalone solution such as a mobile training app? Integrating with an existing system requires either using an existing gamification technology or building your own functionality. A standalone approach often requires work with a game studio to build what’s called a serious game, a game designed primarily to teach new skills.

3. How often are players going to use the system and how frequently? Are they supposed to go through a gamified training once and then they are done? Do they work with the knowledge base day-in and day-out? Will they use the travel expense system more than once every few months? Implementing gamification for a system that is in heavy use requires administration and fine-tuning long after the system has been launched

4. Who are your players? Are they cleaning staff, young call center agents, bank professionals, truck drivers, or students? Their cultural background, age, gender, and education influence the gamification design. Could you use a highly visual (and expensive) 3-D virtual world, or should you stick to simple elements such as progress bars and likes? Is a theme appropriate, or should your players be guided through a story? For example, gamification company TrueOffice has developed game platforms to teach about financial fraud and security using crime story narratives. And a simple smiley face for prompt time reporting goes a long way with consultants.

5. What is your available budget? Few companies are willing and able to spend half a million dollars and more for a 3-D world design. Most designs do not cost more than a few thousand dollars. Whatever your budget is, start out with an area that does not affect mission-critical systems. Choose one where others have shown success, such as in branding and marketing, education and training, or online communities. If none of these apply, choose the application in your company that everyone thinks is the worst. I am sure you can name a few of them without blinking.

These five questions help you understand the gamification process better. And once gamification works for you, and when you become more comfortable and knowledgeable with this concept, you will take it to the next level. And that means you’ll start gamifying more systems and applications throughout your organization, like your call center system, intranet, travel expense system, sales force system, development tools, and even email. Wherever humans interact with a system is a potential behavior problem waiting to be solved.

This brings us to a hidden but most important benefit of gamification: By tracking data on players, gamification creates an accurate and timely picture of an employee’s competencies and skills. This data is valuable for many stakeholders: the employees, as they can see where they stand and how they can improve; the managers, who can monitor and support the employees better; co-workers, who know how others are doing and where and how they can help each other to be successful together; and project teams, who can match team members better according to their skills.

Understanding this makes it clear that gamification is far more than a buzzword. It’s a tool to make your company run better.

Mario Herger

Mario Herger

Mario Herger is CEO, founder and partner of Enterprise Gamification Consultancy, a strategic consulting group focused on gamification, innovation, social business and intra-preneurship in the enterprise. He had been senior innovation strategist at SAP Labs in Palo Alto, California, and global head of the Gamification Initiative at SAP, where he worked for 15 years. He is the author of Enterprise Gamification: Engaging People By Letting Them Have Fun.

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