The process of gamification is the art of using game mechanics, frameworks and elements in a non-gaming context. It has emerged as a prominent trend in recent years, especially in the business sector. Though still an experimental business strategy, gamification is expected to be used by 70% of the world’s 2000 largest companies in some form by 2014 and generate $2.8 billion in consumer spending by 2016. It has been useful as an effective tool to engage employees, customers and the public as well as to develop skills and drive innovation. There has been a rapid increase in its growth and reach due to the current digital and smart-phone era.
The basic aspect of gamification is exploiting some very basic human instincts, especially the relationship between competition, reward and the delight of completing a task. Humans like to interact with other humans, challenge themselves while they’re at it and receive some type of reward along the way. Loyalty programs, special offers provided to frequent buyers, etc are some of the best tricks used by organizations which involve subtle tones of gamification for sustainability.
One of the problems many business organizations face is that they may have goals and initiatives, but they might not have a solid understanding of the progress they are making or the behavior changes that need to take place to meet the goals. Addressing these insight and behavior gaps is the core of gamification. It helps to apply techniques that influence decisions at the time these decisions are being made by using corporate metrics to provide detailed performance information to business heads.
Leveraging some of the features used in real games, gamification can turn many other types of activities into games. Employee-of-the-month schemes, hidden tokens within applications are some of the most frequently used examples. If you’ve ever gained frequent flyer miles after travelling by a particular airline more than once, checked the reward points on your credit card, or become the mayor of a local restaurant on Four Square, you’ve already participated in a basic form of gamification. The always-on-mobile age and integration with social networks has vastly expanded the opportunities in this field. However, many companies are now finding new ways to introduce game elements that will change how we shop and how we work.
Strategies defined by gamification can be applied to the following business opportunities:
· Customer retention: From special privileges and rewards for loyalty to unique offers for long time customers, these schemes encourage customers to keep coming back to the brand for more chances of winning.
· Improved consistency and quality: Companies can improve consistency & quality by providing metrics on performance versus benchmarks and letting employees know how their efforts have grown/declined as compared to their past performance and that of others.
· Improvement of business processes: To make people focus on the activities that require their creativity, organizations can use real-time analytics and automation techniques to automate normal situations and reward staff for shifting to innovative work.
Gamification has the power to accelerate the course of a business and has a great potential in the current era as the difference between real world and virtual world is diminishing at a faster pace. However, if the organization is aiming to build a long term sustainable plan around this concept it should take into consideration these essential points:
1. Clearly recognize the business objectives: Companies must avoid turning gamification into an only available solution for a problem. To avoid this, when an opportunity to leverage gamification is identified, what must follow are a statement of clearly defined business objectives and a critical analysis of the suitability of gamification to achieve those business objectives.
2. Activity isn’t the only criterion of success: Different forms of gamification techniques generate varying amounts of hype in the market. However, the quantity of responses generated by a technique shouldn’t be weighed more than the quality. The number of people who perform a particular task given to them is definitely important, but the type of work that they deliver is far more essential for a company’s triumph.
3. Design for Player-Centricity – Leaders in gamification have some uniquely defined characteristics, most notably player-centric design. The key design point of the activity should be to motivate the players to achieve their goals. The mistake many companies make is to identify the business objectives without clearly identifying the player objectives. In a gamification technique, the business objectives and player objectives should overlap. For companies who are new in the world of gamification, the first design point is to motivate players to achieve their goals, and those goals should overlap with the business goals.
By taking into account all these crucial points, gamification can be successfully applied to businesses. However, in the beginning organizations should start small and build their skill, since gamification can backfire as well if it’s applied without caution. Fun can also be an essential part of the gamification effort. Game elements like badges and leader-boards are an important aspect of the effort, but they should not be the only one. By keeping long term objectives in mind, organizations can change the behavior of their audience as well as their position in the market with this influential tool called ‘Gamification’.
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