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Playing to win with gamification

Highlights
  • Gamification involves injecting techniques from computer games into processes to make them more enjoyable and increase engagement.
  • It seeks to leverage our natural desire for competition, achievement, recognition and fun.
  • The technique is currently being applied to internal projects as well as partner and consumer campaigns.
  • Gamification is particularly effective when new technologies or processes are being implemented.

MYOB uses it for staff performance management, the Commonwealth Bank used it to encourage financial literacy in kids, and help investors enter the property market.

It’s called gamification, and it’s a popular way of infusing projects with a sense of fun and achievement – and ultimately driving productivity and profitability.

The basic premise of gamification is simple – people achieve more and become more engaged with a task when they’re having fun and are regularly rewarded.

It’s a simple but powerful concept that’s long been integrated into consumer marketing in the form of competitions and rewards programs, from the basic coffee card carried in our wallets through to guessing games and raffles.

Playing to win with gamification

Senior executives at some of the world’s largest and most successful companies are starting to understand gamification’s potential and are applying it to project management, staff engagement and business-to-business communications.

In fact, Gartner reports more than 70 percent of Global 2000 companies are already employing gaming strategies in areas like marketing and customer retention. Some 50 percent of companies are also beginning to apply the same strategies to other areas, according to research group Gartner.

Annalie Killian, Director of Innovation, Communication & Social Business at financial services group AMP, is already using gamification to boost internal staff engagement. She’s also paying close attention to its use by other financial services companies.

Killian was able to increase the level of customer engagement and gather valuable data at the company’s recent Amplify event, using a smart phone application designed with gaming principles.

“Gamification is incredibly valuable wherever you need to transfer new skills and get people deeply interested in what they are doing.”

Killian’s team designed a game that encouraged participants to contribute an idea they learned at the Amplify event to unlock puzzles and discover new information in exchange for prizes. As a result, many of the attendees became actively engaged with the content, rather than simply passively observing proceedings.

“I think there was a bit of a mental leap for a lot of people in financial services to understand that gamification is not something that only appeals to 15-year-old school boys but that all sorts of people like a puzzle and a challenge,” Killian says. “We were able to demonstrate this in terms of employee engagement, but there are so many other areas where we can use these techniques to make financial services more relevant and interesting to customers.”

Killian cites an example of web-based applications which allow users to calculate how long they will live based on their present lifestyle, then links this to advice regarding how much money they will need to retire.

“We’re seeing parts of the business become interested in gamifying the customer experience,” Killian says. “Gamification is not about talking to or at the customer, it’s about taking them on a journey.”

The other areas where Killian believes gamification is a powerful tool is in the adoption of new technology and processes, and in other areas where it’s necessary to encourage a change in behaviour.

“We ran a CEO challenge which required staff to use technology they had never used before, and some of them had never played an online game or any other type of computer game before,” Killian says.

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