10 key considerations for an Enterprise Gamification initiative

Enterprises today face a new kind of challenge. A disengaged workforce and a transactional customer base has resulted in productivity loss as well as higher customer churn. Not surprisingly, the Gallup Survey 2013 found that 70% of the workforces is not engaged, which leads to the loss of between $450 and $550 billion per year.

The ‘Millennial generation’ is the single largest contributor to this, as they are more transactional in nature than compared to the loyal ‘Gen X’ or ‘Baby Boomers’. Millennials (~25% of US workforce today) are impacted the most from the ‘Sunday-Monday disconnect,’ i.e. switching between a highly inter-connected, real-time, device dependent and collaborative social world to a monotonous enterprise landscape. They have a harder time disconnecting, and expect work to be an extension of their normal routine.

Turning transactional millennials into loyal customers isn’t a onetime effort, but rather is achieved over a period of time. Tapping into ‘motivators’ and identifying fundamental employee ‘motivators’ enables stronger engagement and true loyalty!

Companies have deployed various measures to bridge this gap like BYOD and gamification. In simple terms, gamification refers to the application of game techniques to non-gaming environments for a desired ‘result’.  Gamification is a very promising tactic, as it deals with human psychology. As Rajat Paharia says in Loyalty 3.0: “Functional isn’t good enough anymore; business technology now needs to be usable, simple, and engaging”. Engaging with millennials requires keeping up with constant changes and evolving trends. There is no ‘Silver Bullet’ when it comes to Gamifying, but the variables in the equation more or less remain the same and they just need to be tailored to suit the landscape.

As Gamification is in the early adoption stage and deals with human psychology there are many chances of it going wrong if we don’t understand exactly what it means to the users.

According to Gartner, by 2014, 80 percent of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives primarily due to poor design.

The four quadrant view indicates that a successful gamification journey starts with understanding the expected business outcomes, current landscape and defining KPA and KPI based on them. Irrespective of the business, geography and user/customer demographics the following 10 key considerations can help safeguard your gamification initiative from getting derailed.

  1. Failing to plan is planning to fail, have a gamification design phase
  2. Set realistic and measurable KPI
  3. Start small but have a constant feedback loop
  4. Keep it simple but with some surprises, as not everyone loves a complex game
  5. Showcase real-time, transparent  user progress and comparison charts
  6. Training based on-boarding programs
  7. Make it interesting, do not let the game  be predictable or easy to cheat in
  8. Set high targets, but make sure the rewards and recognitions are worthy of the work put in
  9. Have short-term and long term missions and competitions
  10. Employees and customers are diverse, make sure no one is left out

Gamification can only be fruitful if an employee wants to change his/her behavior; hence a Gamification initiative should tap into the deep human psychology, and allow for employees to approach the workplace the same way they approach life.

Premkumar Chelliah Veerakumar

Associate Director – Technology, Millennial Solutions Group, Virtusa. Prem is with the IT Services sector for close to 16 years wearing the Enterprise Architect, Technology Consultant and Programmer hats. In his current role he is working with clients to build solutions catered to the Millennial Generation which involves R&D, roadmap development and thinking out of the box. Millennial solutions focus on increasing ‘Increasing User Engagement’, ‘Business Transformation’ , ‘Personalized Services’ using technologies like Social, Cloud, Big Data, Mobile and concepts like Gamification, Crowd Sourcing, etc. He completed his Masters from College of Engineering Guindy and was with Cognizant Technology Solutions from 1997-2006.

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  • Karthik R November 27, 2013

    I agree! Gamification is now taking trend which is mostly followed by product based companies to keep their employees productive, engaged and most importantly creative. I like to give an example of freshDesk whose product is based on gamification. The Millenial group are mainly dis-engaged for variety of reasons but notably expectations to have the coolest work environment.
    Organizations must implement it’s own gamification methodologies to keep workforce with a ‘Im a cool organization’ tag.

    • sharat December 11, 2013

      Debate sake, I disagree. There is no strict definition of a ‘millennial’, so by some definition, I am one too. But what a pampered bunch of people we are. Companies are falling over to make ‘personalized’ solutions to keep us engaged, motivated, entertained, gamified what not. I mean Monday-disconnect is now a glorified trait and causes productivity loss – so companies must design some cool innovative way for us to overcome this laziness.
      What about the good old royal sounding from boss! A rap like that used to work before. Low attention span, constant distraction of updating facebook (at work) and things alike are now celebrated virtues of our workforce and deem innovative solutions. What a life!

  • Premkumar Chelliah Veerakumar December 18, 2013

    Karthik, you are right…every company should have a solution catered to its employee/customer demographics, corporate culture, etc. On the adoption side, I see Gamification becoming mainstream soon. i.e. if you rewind a decade back many companies had focused Usability labs, but now it is part of SDLC with few exceptions. In a couple of years Gamification (User Engagement Tactics) will become a part of the solution design cycle.

  • Premkumar Chelliah Veerakumar February 25, 2014

    @Sharat – You have two questions, let me summarize. First ‘does the Millennial gen deserve the pampering?’ and second ‘solution is to fix the systems or the people?’. First, your view of Millennials is more from an employee perspective; but don’t forget that 30% of the earning population are Millennials who cannot be bossed but served. As you see with trends, there are ‘early adopters’ and a tipping point brings the trend mainstream. Millennials are the early adopters of the ‘Digital World’ that we are entering into, the term ‘Digital Immigrant’ reveals the prophecy. So an enterprise focusing on Millennials is just not placing its bets on them, but on the future of how business will get done. Second, I wouldn’t say machines or systems are invented to compensate our laziness but to relieve us from mundane work to focus on better things. Gamification is a natural evolution in ‘Maturity of Systems’, the 1st gen focused on complex data crunching like weather forecasting, 2nd gen focused on end to end automation like ERP/CRM, 3rd gen focused on Mobility/UX and now the 4th gen is focusing on Systems of Engagement and gamification being one of techniques. Great question, made me think!

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