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Gamification: Realizing Elusive Engagement!

Game mechanics help penetrate the walls that consumers have erected to filter out the deluge of information that increasingly clutters their digital space.

Gamification: The rumbling concept

Gamification is a buzzword that has crept into all industry verticals in the recent years – despite criticism. Gamification, in simple terms, can be defined as application of game mechanics and game thinking to real world contexts to encourage user engagement with a product or service. It utilizes psychological inclination of human minds towards games. It boosts user engagement, loyalty and monetization through the application of core principles of games viz. play, transparency, design, challenge, achievement and recognition - into business strategies. The innovative designs and rewards keep the consumers active and coming back for more. Loyalty programs by retailers, for example, have been promising enough in the past which elucidates that the concept is not new. However, advancement of big data analytics and social media marketing in the recent past has made gamification more affordable and easily scalable to suit every industry need.

Gamified businesses:

Gamification uses an empathy based approach to improve both external and internal interactions in the business world.

  • External/Visible engagement: Businesses have adopted well designed gamified applications which had profound impact on customer engagement, motivating them to change behaviors and driving positive sentiments, while catering to analytical needs and overall organizational goals.
    • Ford Escape Route: With this game, Ford’s customers bought over $8 million in vehicles, with 600% increased likes on FB page, and over 100 million impressions on Twitter.
    • Domino’s Pizza: The gaming app, designed by Domino’s – ‘Pizza Hero’, increased sales revenue by 30% by letting customers create their own pizza with this app.
  • Internal/Domestic engagement:  Employee interactions were immensely influenced through gamification which also helped in enhancing employee motivation, productivity, performance and training. RedCritter Tracker, Playcall and Arcaris are some examples of such management tools.
    • SAP: The SAP Community Network regamified its already-mature reputation system, increasing usage by 400% and community feedback by 96%.
    • Objective Logistics: the company motivated the employees through behavioral rewards and increased their profit margin by 40%
    • Major organizations like Google and Deloitte use game mechanics to improve employee interactions.

 

Convergence of technology

Despite the implementation of gaming techniques in designing the applications, the program can still collapse if there is no learning from the results. Hence, quantification of the results and outcomes combined with the application of analytics, automation and behavior modification can allow gamification to be systematized into organizations at scale. Analytics provide the apparatus and technology to study the changing trends and throws light on the areas of improvement. Furthermore, it provides deeper insights into the detractor’s views and thus helps in making the right marketing choice.

Gamified future: Problems and prosperity

Gamification has been gathering more steam over the years. Forbes predicts that 40% of Fortune 1,000 organizations will have gamified business operations by 2015. EngineYard predicts that by 2016, 70% of Fortune 2,000 companies will have atleast one gamified application. It is believed to further grow up to be one among the giants like Facebook and amazon. However, the concept as a whole is still dawning, thus, adopting a few strategies would help to overcome the hype that calls gamification as ‘just a fad’. In this regard, organizations need to recognize the fields to be gamified. They should begin with a clear objective, defining the target group and the behavior desired out of them. The second step would be to design the rewards which will encourage this behavior. Without washing the hands-off at this stage, the results should be regularly monitored right from the time the application goes live - including the discernment of the data to be collected, their measurement and analysis along with the identification of correct KPIs. The process should be constantly iterated using the new data-driven insights. Finally, depending on the success of small initiatives, businesses can spread gamification at large scale enthralling life in every arena. Employing analytics is a value add-on as it enables a ‘test and learn’ outlook. Further, businesses have the rare opportunity to evolve continuously, learning with every test, embracing the required refinements and thus reserve the best place in the market, always!

 

Conclusion

Gamification assures the best performance of every individual and thus achieves an elusive engagement of the audience by masking work with play and fun. A quote by Heraclitus, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, is worth reminding - “Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play”. Despite the hype created by Forbes, Gartner and the like, will gamification break open its cocoon of infancy and emerge to be a great player in the market? It’s a question that can be answered only with time.

Special thanks to Nilay Wani and Karyl Singh from Mu Sigma for their inputs.

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Comment by chetan ahuja on September 15, 2014 at 7:46pm

Absolutely , gamification is one great way of engagement simplified speaks to the heart as much as the brain and a bit of brawn too. 

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