March Madness Is Like Gamification: To Win, You Need the Right Players Aligned for Success
By Gary Chavez, Vice President, Client Services, Bunchball
You're undoubtedly aware of gamification and how it's being used by companies around the world to engage customers, employees and partners to improve business performance. But even if you can see the benefits, you may be struggling with how to communicate that vision across the enterprise. An important question to ask yourself is, "How can I align stakeholder groups (from business, IT, operations, etc.) to position a gamification project for success?
Getting everyone on board is just like positioning the right players on the court for a basketball game—an appropriate analogy with March Madness having just finished. The 64 squads that made the NCAA Tournament got there because they demonstrated successful teamwork during the regular season. In order for your gamification project to be successful, you'll need to do the same, although for you, the process will involve tearing down silos and building internal partnerships (not mastering the pick and roll or the full court press).
More specifically, you'll need to:
- Determine the problem. Long before tip-off, good coaches scout out the competition. They know exactly what's standing in the way of a win. Adopt that same inquisitive mindset. What pressing issues face your company? What are the specific problem(s) you want to solve? Gamification can address a range of challenges, such as customer loyalty, employee retention and partner engagement. Focus on the core problem(s) and make sure you can articulate it clearly.
- Study the playbook. Once you've identified the problem, look for solutions that are proven to work. Depending on the competition they face, basketball coaches may have to brush up on schemes for different offenses or defenses. If you want to build the internal partnerships necessary for gamification success, you'll have to research gamification platforms–and not only the benefits and costs, but the reputations of the providers, too. Start with gamification-focused websites, then move on to white papers, case studies, etc. Look for vendors that have high-caliber customers and can best implement and support the technology within your business ecosystem.
- Establish KPIs. It's imperative at the outset to identify ways to evaluate your ROI. In basketball, that's easy–the scorer's table keeps track of points, playing time and individual stats. But for gamification, the path to success may not be as clear. How will you know if your core issue has been solved? What data will you need? What beneficial "side effects" will you look for? Answers to those questions will help you sharpen your talking points as you set out to...
- Identify who and what are needed to win. To be successful on the basketball court, you need to know who your starters are and who's available on the bench. To be successful with aligning internal partnerships for gamification success, you'll need to go through a similar process. When you do, be realistic within your constraints. Where will you get the data you need to fuel a gamification initiative? What are your resources–including time, money and people? Which departments need to be involved, what level will be their level of effort and what is in it for them?
- Polish your business case and present your vision. The coaches who cut down nets at the end of the tournament bring their teams together and keep them focused on the prize. Woo the stakeholder groups you need with a concise overview, including the problem, the way that gamification will address that problem, case studies, KPIs and a cost analysis.
Of course, aligning stakeholder groups is just one step in the larger process of implementing gamification. You'll also need to get buy-in from executive management and extend consensus throughout the company, as well. As I mentioned earlier, it's essential to seek out a seasoned partner who can work with you on all of these steps. Don't fall for "out-of-the-box" or "one-size-fits-all" apps. Not every team uses the same offense or defense—so why settle for a quick fix that doesn't fit your needs?
Instead, concentrate on the power of enterprise-class gamification platforms. Look for a provider that not only understands the fundamentals of human motivation and the distinct motivators of your employees, but also possesses a scalable means for delivering enduring engagement, business insights and an ROI.
I'm not saying the process will be an easy score, but it IS a whole lot easier than getting a perfect NCAA bracket.