2012: The Year Enterprise Gets in the Game

This is a guest post by Rajat Paharia, Founder & Chief Product Officer at Bunchball.

During 2011, we saw huge traction in gamification, primarily in commercial applications like film and television sites, social communities and consumer brand campaigns. After launching their first gamified fan site, Club Psych, in 2010 with dramatic results, USA Network launched a second-generation gamification program called #HashtagKiller, and the results are even more impressive.  For commercial sites, gamification went from “what” to “when” during the past year, with enormous momentum moving into 2012.

Enterprises have been somewhat slower to include gamification into business processes, but things are changing.  At first glance, the idea of growing a user base, getting those users registered, and keeping them on the site for extended period of time doesn’t align with the goals of an enterprise.  They already know their (finite) user base, and an enterprise cares far more about productivity than it does traffic monetization.  But the same gamification principles apply: get people involved with enterprise software, keep them using it, and make them more successful.

What do we think will happen in 2012 that will turn the tide on enterprise gamification?

  1. Enterprises will utilize gamification to promote adoption of collaboration platforms.

    Collaboration solutions like Salesforce.com’s Chatter and Jive’s Engage can drastically improve an organization’s productivity.  Powerful and feature-rich, these systems boast a wide range of functionality.  So wide, in fact, that getting users onboarded and using the systems can be daunting.  Enter gamification.  Businesses will onboard users (and reward them) in small steps as they complete profiles, post information, and become part of a larger conversation. The resulting increases in adoption and engagement will ensure that businesses see the return on their social collaboration investments.

  2. Enterprises will pull customers into the conversation.

    Enterprises using these collaboration systems will continue to expand them beyond the borders of the organization to involve partners and even customers in the community.  The same elements that work for employees- challenges, achievements, awards and recognition- can increase engagement in forums, user groups and support systems.  The more a customer feels part of a businesses’ DNA, the more loyal they become.

  3. Sales organizations will automate incentive programs through gamification.

    Nearly every sales organization uses incentive programs to encourage productivity through competition. These programs generally work, but require tedious, manual management from inception through fulfillment.  Adding a gamification layer to CRM systems like Salesforce.com gives sales managers the ability to create, refine and monitor multiple incentive programs, while rewarding sales teams on the behaviors that matter most to the organization.

  4. Gamification will make employee development more rewarding – and employees more productive.

    Ensuring employees are regularly trained and updated on products and positioning is challenging. Adults don’t respond to the same motivators that kids do. Threats of negative consequences for failure to complete lessons might work for third-graders, but adults are motivated less by sticks and more by carrots.  In 2012 more businesses will provide training that incorporates rewards, status, achievement levels and reputation systems.  Adding gamification “carrots” like these will in turn improve course completion, mastery of information, and utilization of new skills.

  5. Gen Y users will influence how businesses deploy applications.

    The workforce is increasingly comprised of employees who have lived and breathed social media since their first introduction to the Internet.   At work, these users will be motivated by software that incorporates what makes social media compelling – recognition, achievement and reputation.  Enterprises will add game mechanics to business systems in order to keep these users motivated and engaged.

Rajat Paharia

Rajat Paharia, Founder and CPO of Bunchball, founded the company in 2005, and released the industry’s first gamification platform, Nitro, in 2007. Rajat works closely with Bunchball’s Fortune 500 clients to craft gamification strategies that engage customers, partners and employees, including companies like NBC, Warner Brothers, Comcast and Hewlett-Packard. His skill set combines a unique understanding of technology and design that stems from a four-year career at design firm IDEO where he was co-director of the Software Experiences Practice.

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