Gamification news, tactics, case studies and more. The official blog of Bunchball.
Odds are, you're familiar with the term "gamification." You may even be able to point to a specific use case where it proved to be a powerful tool for improving business performance. But here's something you might not know: Gamification can be used throughout the entire enterprise, for all business units. In other words, gamification can unlock your company's potential across all employees, all job titles and all departments.
That's possible because, done right, a gamification platform leverages basic human intrinsic motivators (which we all have), data (which we all now generate when we work) and strategic business goals (which we all should be working towards).
True confession: I'm a gamification research junkie. I read as much as I possibly can – from studies that explore human behavior and workplace motivation to the latest on data analytics and other high-tech advances. That's exactly how I became aware of Forrester's recent research about the (significant) gap emerging between B2B executive buyers and the sales teams trying to do business with them.
We all know that buying behaviors have changed – no surprise there. But Forrester found that sales managers have not been able to keep up; far too many are relying on outdated tools and legacy programs to train and engage their sales teams. That leaves buyers disappointed, and sales teams frustrated by opportunities lost. In one study, Forrester asked executive buyers how often they accept follow-on meetings from a vendor they've only met once. Three-fourths (74 percent) said, "Never or occasionally." The message is loud and clear: "Don't call us. We'll call you."
In 2014, we saw gamification level-up in a big way – the category was listed on more than a dozen Gartner Hype Cycles, the media buzz hit a fever pitch and analysts continued to project the market to reach $2.8 billion by 2016.
And yet, while the hype continues, it is increasingly peppered with a layer of cynicism – the common thread in all this is, "okay, hot shot, I hear that you are pretty great - now PROVE IT." To this, we at Bunchball say, "Bravo!" and, "Bring it on!" It is high time that we separate the myth from the reality – and to me, this is the headline for the year ahead:
2015 is the year that gamification will grow up.
It’s that time of year – the season for fresh starts, resolutions to improve and bold new initiatives. As I read article after article about “Top Business Trends for 2015” and “What to Watch for in the Year Ahead,” I can’t help but be struck by the number of times I’ve seen gamification mentioned, or even featured. We’ve come a long way from questions like, “What is gamification?” Today, most business execs know the definition of gamification, and they recognize it as a data-driven motivation strategy that can improve company performance across the board. Many are eager to get platforms in place in the New Year because they understand that engaged employees form the foundation of the service-profit chain.
If you have questions about gamification in the workplace and how it can improve business results for your company, let me break it down. Here are the top reasons why I predict gamification will revolutionize the workplace in 2015:
Contests have been a motivational staple in the workplace for years, ranging from sales “president club” competitions to dumb-luck drawings for random prizes. And while the approaches have been varied, one thing has always been true: when there is only one winner, there are scores of losers, and you have little control over which label you get. Where’s the motivation in that?
I wish I could sugarcoat it, but I can’t. Truth is, most IT service desk managers will start the New Year facing significant challenges. Why? Because customer satisfaction rates are continuing to fall, and now severe impacts on productivity are cropping up. In fact, a study commissioned by BMC Software found that the gaps between business users and IT service agents from all types and sizes of organizations in all geographies are now responsible for productivity losses ranging from 10% (a few hours per month) to more than 50%. As Forrester points out, that means companies are losing money because their people can’t work – and of course, that means customer satisfaction is destined to erode even more.
What’s the problem? Why can’t service and support teams do a better job of connecting with the customers, employees and partners who reach out to them seeking help?
Retailers invest enormous resources in their Black Friday promotions – and perhaps that’s no surprise. The holiday season is retail’s most competitive period of the year, and with more than $50 billion in sales on the line for just one weekend, conventional wisdom would argue that it’s worthwhile to pull out all the stops in order to lure customers with special offers and deep discounts.
But how loyal are Black Friday customers in the long-run? Are you really loyal to that big box store, or are you only camping outside of it because that TV you had your eye on is cheaper there than at the store across the street? Is there a better way to drive sales and increase revenue?
Every manager craves a highly committed, motivated workforce. When workers are engaged, business performance is better, customer satisfaction scores rise and ultimately, revenues increase.
But keeping employees engaged isn’t easy – particularly in today’s distracted and fragmented workplace. Boilerplate training programs and dated motivational techniques (contests, SPIFFs, etc.) are expensive, time-intensive and hard to measure. In fact, they do little to keep employees inspired for the long-term – and worse yet, they often have the opposite effect: demoralization. And then motivation sags, productivity lags and the downward spiral picks up momentum from there.
What can you do to turn things around?
What user behaviors are most valuable in your company’s social collaboration platform? Do you know? And even more importantly, once they’re identified, what can you do to encourage more users to engage in these high-value behaviors?
At Bunchball, we believe that in order to build a vibrant, active community, it’s critical to understand exactly who’s using your platform – and how. Then, once you have that data in-hand, you can work to optimize collaboration by facilitating participation, broadening conversations, and encouraging dialogue that endures. In other words, we know that you can increase the ROI of your social collaboration platform if you can determine the behaviors of high-valued participants and then replicate those behaviors across all users.
Why so much emphasis on the word “all?”
Zombies make great TV characters, movie villains and Halloween costumes. But, let’s be honest, there’s no place for them in your business strategy.
Too many companies have practices or tactics that lurk around like zombies. Similar to the “undead”, these business practices may have once been vibrant and useful, but now they’re lifeless, ineffective at best ... and extremely difficult to eliminate. You know what I’m talking about: the old-school communication approaches, the fear-based directives (“Do this or else!”), etc., etc.
Well, since October is the month when all the ghosts and ghouls come out, now is the perfect time for me to offer you this Halloween-inspired tip: You can use gamification to ward off zombies. Really. I’m not kidding. And to illustrate my point, I’ve compiled a brief overview of what I consider the five most dangerous business zombies and how gamification can put them to rest, once and for all.