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Gamification can motivate employees, engage customers

Sweet spot is shared goals benefitting company, employees and/or customers

Gamification can motivate employees, engage customers

Gamification has become an essential part of any digital business strategy as a way of digitally motivating people and overcoming barriers of scale, time, distance, connectedness, and cost, according to Gartner, Inc. Digital business leaders are using gamification to add value to the product offer, to increase employee engagement, and to drive crowdsourced innovation. 

Gartner defines gamification as the use of game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals. 

Gamification has tremendous potential, but right now most organizations aren't getting it right. The road to gamification success is full of pitfalls, and many companies don't understand how critical player motivation is to success. 

In the book "Gamify — How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things" (Bibliomotion, April, 2014), Brian Burke, research vice president at Gartner, explains how to design an experience that touches people on an emotional, rather than transactional, level and motivates them to achieve their goals.

"Organizations should use gamification to empower their customers, employees, and communities to reach their goals. Gamification is about motivating people to achieve their own goals, not the organization's goals," says Burke. "The sweet spot for gamification is shared goals. If a business can identify the goals it shares with its audience or provide its audience with goals that are meaningful to them, then it can leverage gamification to motivate these players to meet those goals, and the company will achieve its business outcomes as a consequence."

Senior business and IT leaders need to understand gamification and fuse it into their digital business strategy. Business leaders must understand the opportunities to leverage gamification to digitally motivate customers, employees, and communities. IT leaders need to rethink how they can design solutions for engagement rather than just efficiency. A digital engagement strategy challenges business leaders to go beyond interactions; it challenges IT leaders to go beyond transactions. Rather, it requires the design and delivery of digital experiences.

One way to motivate people is to present them with practical challenges, encourage them as they progress through levels, and get them emotionally engaged to achieve their very best. Gamification does just that. At its core, gamification is about engaging people on an emotional level and motivating them to achieve their goals. However, most organizations rely primarily on transactional engagement strategies in their interactions, for example by focusing on employees' concern to earn a living and to meet the minimal expectations of the employer. Organizations need to shift focus to emotional engagement if they want to truly motivate people.

Organizations that are more aggressively adopting gamification already have multiple gamified solutions in place that support different business areas, address different target audiences, and achieve a wide range of business objectives. These organizations are starting to develop gamification centers of excellence to leverage the specialized skills required for these projects. These organizations are also considering how to integrate gamified solutions that touch the same target audience.

“Game mechanics and design have been used to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals throughout recorded history," says Burke. "Gamification is about rethinking motivation in a world where we are more often connected digitally than physically. It is about building motivation into a digitally connected world. And we are just getting started in this journey. Gamification will continue to develop for many years to come."

John Ginovsky

John Ginovsky is a contributing editor of Banking Exchange and editor of the publication’s Tech Exchange e-newsletter. For more than two decades he’s written about the commercial banking industry, specializing in its technological side and how it relates to the actual business of banking. In addition to his weekly blogs—"Making Sense of It All"—he contributes fresh, original stories to each Tech Exchange issue based on personal interviews or exclusive contributed pieces. He previously was senior editor for Community Banker magazine (which merged into ABA Banking Journal) and for ABA Banking Journal and was managing editor and staff reporter for ABA’s Bankers News. Email him at jginovsky@sbpub.com.

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