Technology Adoption Tips: Using Gamification to Your Advantage

Monica Orrigo
October 5, 2015

Gamification in business, or the incorporating of gameplay elements into business processes, has become serious stuff in the technology industry. According to software industry analyst Gartner Group, within a few years, more than 50% of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes and more than 70 percent of Forbes Global 2000 organizations will have at least one game-based application. Gamification isn’t just for technology firms. Any kind of business, including wholesale businesses, can incorporate aspects of gamification into their processes to improve the way they interact with employees, customers and communities. Companies as diverse as Nike, Ford, Wendy’s and Volkswagen have used gamification to drive engagement with their brands, get feedback from customers and achieve a host of other business objectives. Some of the reasons why organizations are turning to gamification include:

  • Faster feedback cycles: Obtaining feedback from customers and partners usually takes a long time, but with gamification, businesses can incentivize their “players” to be more engaged and provide feedback more quickly.
  • Better engagement: Tasks related to work or organizational goals can sometimes be dull, but with gamification, players are encouraged to make the organization’s goals personal, and have fun doing it.
  • Short term, achievable goals: Gamification breaks down large, long-term goals into short-term achievable challenges and assigns rewards for achieving them.

In a sense, gamification in business isn’t all that new. If you’ve ever been part of a loyalty program, earned frequent flyer miles, participated in a brand-sponsored contest on social media, or participated in a sales contest at work, then you have experienced first-hand the gamification of the business world.

What Gamification In Business Means

Gamification in business is the process of integrating certain aspects of gaming into existing processes to drive participation, loyalty and engagement. Gamification can be oriented towards customers, employees, or any group of people whose participation and loyalty are needed for success. Companies such as Bunchball, Badgeville and others are building tools that help companies incorporate gamification to encourage employee participation and loyalty in sales and other programs, as well as to motivate consumers and communities to engage in desired behavior. Through contests online and in social media, using point systems and other tools, gamification taps into powerful psychological motivators such as the spirit of competition – against others or against yourself – and the desire to win or gain status or approval from others. Implementing gamification doesn’t require a big investment either. The concept is very flexible; elements of gamification can be used by companies of any size. Any action you want people to take can be gamified simply by providing rewards, tracking progress or otherwise providing tangible rewards for taking the desired action. Gamification has been widely applied in the technology space and in the business-to-consumer sphere, but it also has applications in the business-to-business world of wholesale. It can influence behavior between business partners in the supply chain and sales funnel. For instance, wholesale companies can use gamification to encourage use of a new B2B eCommerce portal, reward repeat customers, or to drive independent sales reps to participate in sales campaigns. Anywhere you want to influence people to take a particular set of actions, you should consider using gamification.

How Gamification Helps with Technology Adoption

It is obvious why gamification in business is such a successful tactic. After all, games are fun; that makes people naturally want to participate in them. But how does this relate to the technology adoption process? Some of the biggest barriers to technology adoption are in the area of change management, compliance and user development. In general, people dislike change, so getting them to go along with new technology projects can be challenging. Gamification helps to resolve this issue by making it more about the individual’s interest than the company’s. It answers the WIIFM question: What’s In It For Me? According to Brian Burke, research vice president at Gartner Group, “Gamification is about motivating people to achieve their own goals, not the organization's goals.” Handshake customer Cooper-Booth Wholesale, a distributor of convenience store products, recently used gamification to drive adoption of their new digital order writing software. According to Lori Homsher, VP of IT at Cooper-Booth, “Change can be difficult for many people. With our sales reps, we did a gradual rollout, starting with three reps who I knew would provide us with good feedback…[We assigned] homework and then incorporated the grades into our fantasy sales campaign. We happened to be running a sales gamification campaign at the time – we gave out points to reps who completed their homework each week. We did this for a couple of weeks and it was enough time to get everyone accustomed to the system and familiar with the screens.”

How to Gamify the Technology Adoption Process

Some of the tools that can be used in gamification include points, achievement badges, leaderboards, progress bars denoting status towards a goal, performance graphs comparing current to past performance, quests, stories, avatars, profiles, and other rewards. . Some tips to gamifying the technology adoption process include:

1. Sponsor an Event:

One of the best ways to bring people into the game for the first time is through an event. Make sure it is well-marketed to users and any roadblocks to adoption are first removed. Webinars or executive Q&As can be a great way to overcome users’ initial hesitations about new technology and build excitement for the game. Remember to gamify the event by awarding points to those who attend and announcing point systems for people to continue to achieve adoption objectives after the event.

2. Provide Rewards:

These can be a simple point system, or something more elaborate. Want your users to read the instruction manual? Incorporate gaming elements to drive the behavior you want to see by creating a quiz to ensure mastery; the highest scoring employee wins the game and gets a prize. Want to encourage customers to order from your website? Create a rewards system to encourage it.

3. Share and Publish Results:

The sense of competition is a big part of what makes gamification in business so successful. Leaderboards give users a reason to keep coming back and spark competition among users. The desire to win and progress towards their goals encourages users to continue using the new tools. Gamification in business has great potential to motivate customer loyalty and to foster employee alignment with organizational goals so that businesses can achieve their goals faster. Do you see a role for gamification in your business? Tell us about it in the comments.