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Gamification Goes Beyond Advertising

July 20, 2015

Gamification, applying game thinking and design elements in a non-traditional context, is surging into new areas.  Applying game tech and theory to engage customers and employees, teach, entertain, and measure is taking hold in more traditional enterprise settings and beyond the typical 18-35 year old demographic, to much broader applications.

For instance, the customer support team at Veeam Software has been gamified.  Support engineers are now measured on a weekly dashboard using traditional metrics, but each team member now gets reward points and achievement badges for accomplishments, with badges awarded for such things as taking 75 incoming phone calls, closing 15 cases in the United Kingdom, and earning 250 points for closing the first 250 VMware cases.  Everyone can see how individual team members are doing and compare their performance to each other.

LightSail, a K-12 literacy tool, was first reluctant to embrace the term of "gamification." But the company found by making more information available to students, providing a classroom leader board so students could compare themselves, adding more badges and providing more visual feedback, teachers reported students had indeed turned reading progress into more of a game.

Businesses are embracing gamification as a way to improve recruitment, skill building, and operational efficiencies.   Getting people to compete enables them to demonstrate their skills and traits in a structured environment while cooperative games can help further develop areas that need work.

Pymetrics, a "brain game" company, uses 12 short games to assess 50 cognitive, emotional, and social traits, providing a snapshot of an individual's characteristics. The created profile is then used to match up the person to carriers and companies where he or she would most thrive.  While the science isn't firmly established, job applicants would get positions where they would be most happy and productive while companies get employees with the skills and temperaments best suited for their positions and departments.

RoundPegg is using gamification to understand the cultures within businesses, including subcultures within departments.  From there, it uses the various defined metrics to evaluate job candidates in a quantitative fashion to understand which candidates best fit the organization and the departments.

Gaming is also being used by some companies in hiring by working directly on a task or challenge relative to the business.  Pulse Savings has applications participate in a business case competition, enabling prospective employees to demonstrate both skills and creativity.  Prospects are able to show their skills rather than simply rely on a job interview and a resume.

Umbel goes one step further, using a game called "Umbelmania" to get coders to build programs in a wrestling match format.  Winning programmers move up in standings with top scorers having the potential to be offered a job.

But hiring the "best" candidates is only the beginning.  RoundPegg provides manager toolkits with customized on-boarding guides, coaching guides, and conflict resolution guides to assist managers in getting the best results out of their employees, as well as to improve manager skills.

Gamification is also seen as a way to get employees engaged in skill building, training, and operational requirements. Walmart uses games as a safety training tool to keep employees aware and to help them remember safety information.  Google has gamifed expense reports, providing an allowance for a work trip.  Employees that don't fully spend the per diem and expenses can choose what happens to the remaining money, with the amounts either paid in the next paycheck, saved for a future trip, or donated to a charity of their choice.   Within six months of launching the program, Google had 100 percent compliance.

It's hard to fully describe all the ways companies are delving into gamification because there's a combination of psychology, organizational efficiency, and big data that all roll together to provide a competitive and fun environment.  One company's gamification may be another's sales force incentive program.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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