In 2009, the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) used gaming techniques to achieve cost savings of £20m. By deploying game mechanics within its innovation management platform, such as enabling employees to receive points for submitting innovative ideas, DWP motivated and empowered 6,000 employees to come up with solutions for various problems. When implemented, these resulted in significant value creation for the business.
In 2013, Nike revealed it had engaged with over 18 million customers using gaming techniques on its digital platform. It used products such as its Nike+ running app, to let customers set various fitness goals and track their performance against their friends on live leaderboards.
These examples, of which there are many more, exemplify the different ways in which gamification can add value to businesses, and why companies serious about driving growth need to apply game design techniques within their organisations.
What is gamification?
Gamification is about taking all the qualities that make games so addictive and enjoyable (game mechanics) and applying these into real-world situations. The goal of which is to motivate and engage people to exhibit desired behaviours that drive positive business results.
Gamification should not focus solely on the use of points, badges and leaderboards. Another dimension to game theory is centered on how behavioural economics can drive engagement through aspects such as loss aversion. Psychologically, research has shown that people have a tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. Thus, techniques such as placing conditions on ‘players’ in order to drive repeat engagement can greatly influence their behaviours.
To contexutalise this, consider the various game mechanics used by the business-oriented social network, LinkedIn:
- Loss Aversion: Trending information that helps to motivate users is always visible. For example, one widget ranks a user’s number of profile views amongst their connections over the last 15 days typically driven by how active and engaged a user is on the site
- Points, Badges and Leaderboards: A profile strength gauge is visible on each users profile to measure how much of their profile information has been completed. This pushes the user to achieve an ‘All-Star’ status by completing all the fields and subsequently driving their understanding of how the site works.
Whilst gamification as a theory is not a new concept, the current business landscape is primed for gamification to make a lasting impact. This macro environment is characterized by a consumer-centric digital age underpinned by the emergence of new technologies. From its use externally within marketing strategies helping businesses attract and retain customers, to revitalising mundane internal administrative processes resulting in higher staff productivity levels; the scope for gamification is far reaching.
Gamification is about a finding a lever that drives positive competitive behaviour. The competitive element is not novel, but rather the advancement in technology now means we can track and manage it more effectively. As the line between the online and physical world become blurred, the use of game mechanics to attract, engage and motivate people becomes increasingly important within the wider value chain. The ability for people to level up and generate points become real.
- In a digital era, the scope for gamification to make a significant business impact is great
- Game mechanics is about using all of the qualities that make games addictive and enjoyable, and applying these within a business context
- As business and technology strategies become inseparable, gamification is fast becoming an enabler for further business growth.
Written by Tobi Ogunsanya, Accenture Strategy, for the Young MCA Update.