Sunday, 20 May 2012

Where is Gamification best employed in the enterprise?

Speaking on a Gamification panel the other night and someone asked if there was any examples I could give where gamification shouldn’t be applied. On the spot I gave a bit of a glib answer that I thought the funeral industry probably wasn’t an area that I would recommend, which got a couple of laughs but the question did make me think… where in the enterprise is gamification best applied and where might it not be as valuable?

I have listed below some characteristics of areas that I think are best suited to gamification. Noting that I don’t think for a moment that I have figured this out completely, but I am an external thinker so it helps me to tip my ideas out and maybe someone can build upon them!

A quick aside on how I am making this judgement of “best suited”. I am making a heuristic assessment of where I think the potential value of gamification will outweigh the potential cost and risk. There is an implicit assumption here; that the gamification is done well and the effort is taken to embed game design properly and appropriately – its not just slapping on some points and badges.

I believe that Gamification in the enterprise will produce the most value in the following situations;

  1. Where the execution of an activity isn’t as valuable to the organisation as the outcome. Think customer data maintenance; “Data Entry” is not a valued activity, however accurate and complete data is very valuable in today’s information based world.
  2. Where the short term execution of an activity isn’t as rewarding to the individual as the outcome. For example; maintaining an up-to-date experience profile or documenting your performance outcomes regularly (vs just before the end of year appraisal process). The more obvious one is an example outside the enterprise space; regular exercise!
  3. Where an activity is “invisible” when done well but hugely visible when it goes badly (I call these “utility” activities – when was the last time you rang the electricity company to thank them for your lights coming on!) Examples of this are things like routine processing operations (the nightly batch) or maintenance and upgrades.

The reason I think gamification has the maximum chance of delivering maximum value for these activities is that they are all situations where there are barriers to execution of the activity but also tremendous benefits and value to having the activity done well. Gamification can help with this “problem” by using game mechanics to engage, motivate and reward the people involved in the activity so that their efforts are maximally aligned with the outcomes desired!

Next blog post I will attempt to answer the question about where gamification may not be best suited. That one is a little harder for someone who has “drank the Kool Aid”!!!!

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