Badgeville explains: gamification is not a game
See if you recognize this scene: A top exec or IT manager latches on to the latest enterprise software trend – maybe it's moving the company's HR system to the cloud, or installing an enterprise social network to improve collaboration. Vendors are vetted. A decision is made. Consultants are hired to help out with the installation. The deployment goes live.
Three months later, nobody's using it.
This happens all too often, according to Badgeville field sales chief Kevin Akeroyd, particularly with social software such as Yammer, Jive, and Tibbr.
"Utilization on that stuff is only 12%," he says, citing research from Forrester. "It's the same thing on customer-facing communities like Lithium and Get Satisfaction. Utilization rates of customer-facing social are as poor as enterprise social."
Badgeville's solution is to use game mechanics to increase engagement. It offers a platform where employees or customers can earn online badges and social recognition for desired behaviors – like sharing expertise on an internal social network, or resolving a customer complaint quickly.
Does this actually work?
Customers and consultants are certainly jumping aboard. The company is just over two years old, but already has more than 100 employees, 230 customers, and is on track to double its annual revenue for the second year running. Today, consulting firm CapGemini announced it has teamed up with Badgeville to deliver gamification to customers as part of its larger Digital Transformation practice.
But there are also plenty of skeptics. A recent Gartner report predicted that 80% of gamification efforts will fail, mainly because of poor design.
"We emphatically agree," says Akeroyd. "Gamification will fail if it's done poorly."
Akeroyd offers these tips to make sure a gamification effort succeeds.
- Gamification does not mean creating a game. "If I give you a game to play, that's just one more thing that'll be underutilized." Instead, it means adding game dynamics to existing workflows. Akeroyd admits the word "gamification" sometimes gives the wrong impression, but it's become a common term, so Badgeville has decided to stick with it while also trying to expand its definition beyond the simple mechanics of rewards. It's also about reputation management and social mechanics – that is, making sure that an indivdual's achievements are broadcast and recognized throughout a larger community.
- Know your audience.. Each gamification effort has to be tailored to its audience. "HR and legal are very different than sales. Sales is different than marketing, which is different than professional services." He offers an example: "Engineers are all reputation and expertise-based, they want to be voted the Yoda of Ruby on Rails coding this month." But if you make them compete against each other, they won't even touch it.
- It can't be isolated to one app or system. Lots of apps have simple game mechanics, such as "likes" or achievements. But as soon as users leave the system, those notifications disappear. This isn't nearly as effective as having a single platform that persists across apps. "It's not going to work to earn what you want in Jive if your reputation or rank or reward is constrained to Jive."
- Real-world rewards are not necessary. Surprisingly, Badgeville has seen just as much uplift in desired behavior from virtual rewards and reputation as they have from tangible rewards, such as extra vacation days or gift cards.
The advice on how to set up a gamification effort is just as important as the technology itself, which is why Badgeville has hired a lot of experts to help its customers use the platform effectively. "We knew this back in 2010 when started the company," says Akeroyd. "We spent lots of money and hired an amazing team of behavior psychologists, social anthropoligists, and social game designers."
It's also why the partnership with Capgemini is so important to the company.
To skeptics, Akeroyd offers the example of Samsung, which uses Badgeville on its customer-facing Web site – you can see it here, right under the "Join Samsung Nation" header. The company was trying to drive anonymous users to register, get them to participate more in online forums and post reviews, and – most important – to buy more stuff.
After installing Badgeville, Akeroyd says, Samsung saw the following:
Google made a big splash almost a year ago with its Google Glass Internet-connected eyewear. Now the search giant is ready to broaden its assault on the wearable computing market by releasing a software development kit for developers to create Android-based software for wearables.