The debate over whether or not gamification is more than a passing trend, a buzzword, or a flashy badge of approval bestowed upon a tech product to give it slightly longer legs is ongoing in some circles. However, experts think we'll be seeing more and more companies turning to gamification for many different reasons in the next year. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2014, 70 percent of Fortune 2000 companies will have at least one gamified application. As more software moves to the cloud, game mechanics are increasingly being integrated into enterprise to attract and retain customers and to energize and keep employees. In the same vein, cloud environments need to be scalable to IT infrastructure, which now include gamified platforms.
Badgeville, a leading gamification company, is approaching this opportunity by delivering a platform as a service that allows businesses to measure and influence user behavior. Leveraging The Behavior Platform by Badgeville, the 3D design software provider Autodesk, incorporated game mechanics into a 30-day trial of its 3ds MAX tutorial. The company says this gamification experiment led to 10 percent more trial downloads and a 40 percent increase in trial usage. They were able to keep more customers by rewarding them with points and achievements as they interacted with the product and learned how to use it.
"Gamification plays a crucial role in engaging users, in order to stave off the churn problem," said Badgeville CEO Kris Duggan. "If you cared about software licenses in the past you didn't care about usage. As you move to the cloud you have to care about usage because that leads to retention."
What kind of behavior can be driven by gamification?
Duggan says Badgeville customers are using the platform for multiple behaviors. One customer called Recycle Bank, works with companies to get people to recycle more. Badgeville client OPower works with utility companies to help customers consume less energy.
OPower's Director of Product Management, Wayne Lin, says using behavioral psychology to drive reductions in consumer energy usage has been effective.
"We've started experimenting with gamification techniques through Badgeville to see if these techniques can further increase the amount that consumers save," shared Lin. "Specifically, we've built a Social Energy app in partnership with Facebook and NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Counsel) that allows people to invite their friends and compare their usage against their friends. They see a leaderboard showing where they stand against their friends, earn badges for hitting different savings levels, and can also join teams to participate in energy savings challenges."
How does gamification and social engagement drive business?
Work.com, formerly Rypple.com, uses gamification to drive business for customers. The company was recently acquired by Salesforce.com, which was originally built as a CRM tool for sales people to keep track of all of their deals. Sales management tracking has become a much more social process in that users can engage with their colleagues in the kind of social interactions they experience on other social networks. Work.com now focuses on a few key behaviors critical for business success. These include goal setting and aligning people around a common objective, motivation and engagement, and real-time feedback and coaching.
Nick Stein, Director of Marketing and Communications for Work.com, says companies need to change their reward systems to reflect the pace of modern times.
"Fifty years ago when companies would set goals once a year, they'd reward people every couple of years with a gold watch, and maybe give a performance review once a year," said Stein. "That kind of feedback didn't really reflect the real-time work that people did. So we [Work.com] kind of started with the perspective of, how can we create a social platform like Facebook and Twitter that would enable people to get the feedback that they need in order to do their job better, to perform more effectively."
This philosophy is evident in a Work.com tool called Thanks that's integrated directly into Salesforce.com. Thanks enables sales managers to send a thank you directly within Salesforce, select a customized badge that represents the values of their organization and the specific skills associated with it.
Stein says, "The point is that you are essentially recognizing someone for doing great, and you're tying that back into the systems where people are doing their work every day."
Usage, retention, and consistency are key to leveraging gamification in the cloud for enterprise success. It's a formula many companies are using to set themselves apart from the competition, and one we'll be seeing more of in the future.
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