Like it or not, gamification is here to stay and help bolster user engagement. Employee engagement has become the holy grail in private companies and government agencies, as numerous studies show that engaged employees are far more productive, and stay longer than their non-engaged peers. Companies are increasingly using gamification to reward and recognize both their trading partners and their employees.
When gamification capabilities are added to social software, the idea is for companies to access data and analytics that should provide much needed insight into employee behavior, and then reward employees in a way that increases their commitment to what they are doing while also keeping them aligned with company goals. To that end, Socialtext, a renowned provider of enterprise social software, announced its partnership with Badgeville, the leading gamification and behavior management platform, to infuse gamification capabilities into its variety of applications, widgets, and mobile tools.
Socialtext has been engaging employees through its social technologies, and gaming dynamics are a cornerstone of that strategy. In partnering with Badgeville, Socialtext will use Badgeville Embed with the aim to enhance the overall user experience and increase engagement while better understanding user behavior. Badgeville Embed, a purpose-built offering for software providers, enables these vendors to incorporate proven engagement techniques right into the flow of their applications, with the intent to drive desired user behaviors that maximize customer value and boost their renewal rates.
Socialtext selected Badgeville Embed to help its social technology avoid the complexity of having to develop in-house the advanced customized reward systems its customers need to engage users. With this partnership, Socialtext plans to deliver an innovative functionality to layer in game, reputation, and social mechanics (similar to those used by Facebook and popular social games right on top of their own assets). Product professionals can drive, influence, and reward valuable user behaviors across their applications to encourage more repeat visits and overall customer retention.
Badgeville’s behavior analytics provide the data, context, and insight necessary to understand how people meaningfully engage with Web sites and mobile and enterprise applications. By leveraging rich behavioral data, companies can go a level deeper than the static, anonymous metrics typically found in traditional Web analytics. With the ability to access in-depth behavioral insights, Socialtext hopes to decipher how users are leveraging applications and then assess where improvements and changes are needed.
Value of Gamification
The general feeling is that gamification has a lot of potential—if the competition (game) is set up properly, it can motivate certain people (not all, but even only some often might suffice). I see gamification as potentially useful in sales forces, since sales employees are typically ego-driven (in addition to being money-driven); not only do they like to compete, but they also thrive on reputation and recognition that they are “da man.”
Customers see the value of gamification in helping to reinforce a culture of collaboration, openness, and teamwork. At the same time, companies still require a more formalized structure around goals and performance metrics, especially for setting expectations between employees and managers and creating accountability for actions and alignment across the organization. The hard benefits of gamification are currently not easy to quantify (indeed, how much do these public kudos, badges, and points toward gift cards improve employee performance?), but it is acknowledged as a valuable tool for reinforcement of a corporate culture.
Ironically, gamification is enabling top management to shrewdly impose Big Brother by watching quietly who is engaging (and how much) in collecting points and badges—those employees are then also likely doing their work. Many individuals are impatient, seek instant gratification, and have trouble motivating themselves if the results can’t be seen for in, say, 6 to 12 months. Thus, if a salesperson needs 12 months to convert a lead into a sales order, he/she will not likely focus on prospecting and creating leads and opportunities if he/she only gets evaluated through the actual sale. But if the gamification can show some other results metrics, it is more likely that sales employees will put some effort into activities other than merely closing sales. If employees get points for each lead they bring in, management can then ascertain who is involved in prospecting versus who is not.
While gamification has certainly become a popular trend in social software, what Socialtext is doing seems different from a Jive Software or Lithium. The latter are trying to convene external communities around gaming dynamics, so it’s more about binding consumers to online communities. For Socialtext, gamification is about changing the culture of companies, moving them from a compliance mindset to a collaboration mindset.
Related TEC Article
Benefits and Pitfalls of Gamification for Consumer Marketing, June 2012