Gamification, big data and social business – The way forward for cutting edge enterprises

Gamification, big data and social business have been trending topics in how to build a typical millennial enterprise. But as of now, many organizations have operated them in silos and it remains to be seen how exactly we can truly integrate them. This article explains how big data and social business can be used together with gamification, to drive more value to the enterprise and drive competitive advantage for it’s products and services.

Gamification beyond traditional means
Gamification was first introduced as the use of game mechanics in non-game contexts. This definition was misleading. A lot of companies believed that the use of game mechanics such as PBLs (points, badges and leaderboards) in non-game contexts, would create a “gamified” workplace that would increase employee engagement and productivity. This was one of the primary reasons why Gartner rightfully predicted that 80% of the gamified products/areas would fail.

In the modern era of gamification, the new definition can be explained as the use of gameful thinking and game design to make enterprise processes more fun and engaging. Game design may or may not incorporate the traditional PBL based gamification, but it will focus more on:

  1. Designing the user journey
  2. Designing meaningful choices
  3. Designing the presentation of adequate information to the player

As mentioned earlier, a successful gamification strategy will keep providing information to the end user so that person can focus on constant improvement. This information will help the “player” make meaningful choices in the “game”. For example, a typical video game might include information like where to find ammo, racing track and short cuts, gunshot range, etc. The intention of video games is to make the “play” fun, but when it comes to workplace, the game should not only make the play fun, but it should also help the end user make the most appropriate choice specific to the business scenario.

“In a typical call center scenario, the call center representative will be prompted with information such as basic customer details, customer’s purchase history with product information, answers to the common questions and inquiries and the process verification steps to follow. The entire steps can be part of a progress bar till completion and the customer rating and/or call completion matrices can be used to derive badges and points.”

Data is everywhere, the trick is to connect
Big data has been a rising subject during the past couple of years. In simple terms big data can be defined as structured and unstructured large volumes of data, which can be analyzed to understand behaviors and patterns. Connecting these large volumes from various data sources to drive a conclusion or provide insights can improve the outcome of the gamification process as well.

In the first section, the importance of meaningful choices and the meaning of pushing information to the end user were described, but we still must examine what level(s) of information is key to the whole setup. Traditionally game designers will push information hard coded within the system, but taking a step further, a successful strategy will bring insights into the game environment by analyzing the player’s behavior patterns to make the game more interesting.

As described earlier, it’s very important to provide the right information to the end user so that person can make the most appropriate decision, specifically in enterprise gamification. In this way the gamified application can go through extended data sources and derive conclusions based on complex analytics processes.

“In a typical restaurant scenario, when a customer is ordering, the server can go beyond the basic order tracking scenario to suggest what the customer might need. Like:

  • Introducing a new product similar to what the customer usually buys 
  • Based on the previous order patterns of other customers the server can suggest beverages or a desert to go with the main meal to give a better dining experience to the customer
  • Based on the reviews the customer made on other restaurants and based on the usual places he visits to eat, the server can make suggestions to improve the meal taste (i.e. spicy, cheesy, etc.)

If this information is prompted on the screen when a customer makes an order, then the server can build a better customer relationship and provide better service to the customer 

Bringing social integration to support a wider range of analytics
Social integration has always been the tasty icing on the cake. Social integration, if used correctly, can build and retain customers to the product or the service the enterprise offers. Today most of the younger generation is on social media, making comments, reviews, checking in to the places they visit, and most importantly boasting about what they are doing right now.

One of the best examples is a Facebook status update. Below is an example of someone making “a public announcement” about his travel to Dubai with two of his friends.

Likewise, foursquare and swarm enable you to check-in to places you visit. Instagram can also extract where you have been by analyzing your photo map.

If you think about it, the most important factor is that privacy has become a word of the past. People no longer hide what they do. The trick is how we extract this information to improve our business. In a video game context or mostly in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs), the play status and statistics of fellow gamers with special reference to your “friends” are displayed alongside yours. This creates a huge impact because as per Dr. Richard Bartle’s player types, 80% of the players are “socialites”, those who play to create social impact and build social relationships.

In a similar way, social sense can be incorporated into business applications. We discussed the use of big data with gamification, but – the social aspect can add more insight into the same application and provide a better user experience to the end users. One such way is to track social data within the big data model so that you not only analyze the particular user’s patterns, but also the patterns of their friends. The social aspect can have limitations within banking, healthcare, insurance, and other similar domains, but it is widely applicable in travel, leisure, and hospitality related domains.

“In a typical tourism app: 

  • When a user tries to make a reservation in a country, it will provide insights on how many of his Facebook/other social friends, are also there (Privacy Policies applied)
  • It suggests other locations that your friends travelled to and analytics to support budget optimizations
  • It suggests the best hotels, attractions, and restaurants based on the comments your friends’ made about a specific country 

Unlike traditional applications, these insights can provide a better customer experience, by connecting the customer to people they already know, thus also retaining them in the process.”

Connecting the dots
The average gamified process will provide the user with basic information on how he or she may be doing. It will also prompt details on how to make improvements based on the general expert opinion. Now however, big data and social elements can help increase the level of predictive analysis to better predict how you may conduct your day, based on previous meetings or tasks, or previous behavior on a certain day. Big data and social elements can also be used to predict the achievements of a team for the day, and predict what the end of the day performance leaderboard will look like. This information can help individuals self-adjust their behavior to become more productive at their enterprise.

In a world where innovation drives business stability, relatively new areas like gamification, social business, and big data are playing a big part. It’s essential to understand that it’s not what we use that keeps us ahead of the parade; but it’s how we use them. While areas like social business and big data can definitely bring value to organizations, even if they were used in silos, if an organization can extract the essence, bundle them together seamlessly, and map them out to align with business objectives, then true innovation will be uncovered and organizations will gain a clear competitive advantage.

Prageeth Sandakalum

Consultant, Gamification Lead - Customer Experience Management, Virtusa. Prageeth is responsible for end to end delivery of Gamification products, general technical lead operations and internal/external sales for the millennial enterprise initiative of Virtusa (V+). He is also a part of many strategic initiatives in the area of millennial enterprise solutions and assists the organization in the Go To Market strategy for the same. He is a First class honors degree holder in the field of Information Technology from University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. He is also an Advanced Speaker – Bronze, specialized in Technical Presentations & Informative Speaking awarded by Toastmasters International. He was an invited guest speaker at the SharePoint & Social Business Conference 2012, USA and a speaker at Microsoft Sri Lanka Technology Forums and Various Educational Institutes including National Universities. Apart from being a researcher on Gamification and Social Business Techniques, he also loves to watch and play Cricket and Badminton, Travel around the world and do Latin American dancing.

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  • Debabrata Panda February 10, 2015

    Very Insightful, I liked the connecting the dots and the predictive analytics dimensions.
    Just wanted to further detailize that millennials that strive for faster, richer gamification experience can be tapped by one more dimension.
    Tapping into the fast growing mobility can really expedite the penetration of new trending gamification. Glad if you could shed light on this.

    • Definitely yes. Gamification / Big Data are just concepts. Enterprises may have their own display mechanisms to show the output.

      Mobility (Smart phones and tablets) has to be the display devices where the outcome is shown even when they are away from the workstation. This is the primary success point of bringing a rich gamification experience to your employees… Yes I agree with you fully.

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