How to Use Gamification to Increase Adoption of Your Business Application

Savvy CIOs are driving the use of gamification in enterprise applications to drive adoption and bring a B2C experience to their B2B offerings.

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What is gamification?

Gamification is the application of game design principles in non-game environments. The goal is not to create a game, but rather to use the properties of games that drive the desired user behaviors.

The benefits of business gamification

IT organizations can no longer assume that just because they have created an application, employees will use it. Over the past decade, the line between an employee’s professional and personal information systems has blurred considerably. The last few years in particular, and the unprecedented number of employees working from home, have only accelerated this proposition.

SEE: The COVID-19 Gender Gap: Why Women Are Quitting Jobs and How to Get Them Back to Work (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)

In our personal lives, we have come to have high expectations for the apps we download and use daily. The Apple Store and Google Play have given users so many choices that the bar for user experience and engagement is quite high.

As these expectations trickle down to an employee’s digital expectations for their work life, gamification can be a powerful tool to increase adoption and drive results on the road to mastery. By capitalizing on an innate fun of human-centered gaming, gamification is a proven way to make technology and the work environment more inviting.

Gamification Implementation Steps

If you’re ready to try gamification in your organization, these four steps will help you get started.

Start with the end in mind

Make sure you fully understand the current trading scenario. What is the friction point? What is the desired target outcome? If today it’s taking employees too long to complete onboarding and enroll in the benefits program, set new goals around that specific behavior: for example, your gamification mission might be to reduce half the integration time.

Get to know your users

The success of any gamification effort relies on a clear understanding of the user. Is your user a customer service representative? Or maybe accounting and invoicing? It is important to identify everything you can about these users. Common human-centered research techniques such as interviews, surveys, and user personas will help. Game-specific research techniques like the Bartle test can help assess a particular team’s motivating factors.

Apply game mechanics

Once you understand your mission, your users, and their motivations, you’ll want to create your main game loop. This means your game rules and the specific gamification elements you will apply.

Start simple: game mechanics are directly related to human psychology. As such, gamification elements fall into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic. The former refers to things that users do for their inherent enjoyment or satisfaction, while the latter refers to tasks performed to reap specific rewards. The most successful examples of gamification include elements of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Below are some specific examples of each.

Intrinsic motivators:

  • Autonomy
  • Learning
  • Mastery
  • Curiosity
  • Belonging

Extrinsic motivators:

  • Points
  • Badges
  • Milestones
  • Rankings
  • Competitions

Inspect and adapt

It is important that stakeholders understand that gamification is not a project. It must be an ongoing program to be successful. This means starting small, capturing meaningful metrics, continuously monitoring and refining.

Buy vs build gamification platforms

Consider external gamification platforms

If your organization is looking for help getting started with gamification, there are a number of vendors offering tools and platforms that can jump-start your efforts. While all of these platforms focus on some form of gamification, some target much more specific segments than others.

While products like Bunchball Nitro attempt to offer broad gamification solutions that apply enterprise-wide, others tend to be narrower but specialized. Committedly attempts to gamify HR functions and 360 feedback. Similarly, Spinify focuses squarely on gamified sales experiences. Trivie tries to differentiate itself by relying on AI.

Whether you choose to buy or build, it is essential that you do your homework. When comparing solutions on the market, it is important to consider a number of factors.

Factor Considerations
Technology Choose a technology-agnostic platform, so it can be used anywhere the company is looking to integrate game mechanics.
Analytic When done correctly, gamification is highly data-driven. Platforms need to be able to provide extensive data points so implementers know what works and what doesn’t.
Secured Make sure any tools you use for your gamification strategy support enterprise-grade data encryption.
Compliant There are legal and ethical issues that impact gamification in business. The platform you choose must comply with the privacy and worker protection laws of your country or region.
Customizable Ultimately, you’ll want to be able to implement different gamification strategies for different parts of your business. Look for flexible solutions that will allow you to easily adapt your program to your specific needs.

Final Thoughts

In a highly competitive job market, the digital employee experience is high on the list of considerations weighing on the modern CIO. Gamification allows savvy CIOs to harness the power of gaming mechanics as a way to effectively engage employees and drive behaviors.