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Gartner Report: Gamification Potential for Business Process Management

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Potential for Gamification Utilization in Business Process Management

The full potential of Gamification still remains relatively untapped within the corporate setting but in a recent report by Gartner, Business Process Management (BPM) is poised to seize the opportunity. In the report, research director, Elise Olding, provides her key findings and recommendations for BPM in employing gamification.

Olding, reports three key findings of a well-designed gamification system. Firstly, with the use of appropriate game mechanics, gamification could tackle BPM challenges such as creating a culture of continuous improvement, sharing best practices and having process visibility. Furthermore, gamification may also provide quantifiable measurements for work activities which in turn enables real-time feedback for both employees and management. Last but not least, gamification can stand as a comprehensive strategy is to achieve desired business outcomes. These findings reinforces the notion that gamification can provide desirables results if it is established in accordance with key gamification principals.

At quick glance, gamification may seem to be the easy and quick solution to all BPM challenges. However, applying it to business process improvement is no simple matter. In fact, poor implementation of a gamification system cheapens the full value it could actually provide. Olding warns that professionals should not be over-enthralled by the “Wow Factor” of gamification which may lead them to lose the overall strategic purpose of employing the system. Thus, Olding’s provides several recommendations in introducing professionals to the proper implementation of gamification for a BPM environment:

  1. Define your process objectives, metrics and desired outcomes; then consider what kind of behaviors you want to reinforce — that is, what needs to be preserved or changed.

Before setting up a gamification system, It is imperative that business process professionals first identify their desired goals and objectives. By narrowing down their targets for the system, it enables both BPM and gamification designers to incorporate the appropriate game mechanics and tools to attain their learning objectives. As stated by Olding, “It’s important for the business process professional to understand what the tools are, how they work, and how to map the right game technique to the right action/behavior for the task. ” Taking a step further, professionals should also question themselves whether gamification will help to achieve the desired results or is it merely masking a problem. If it is the latter, BPM should first solve the underlying problem within the process itself. As Jesse Schell discussed in his TED talk, some processes does not need to be gamified.

2. Understand what works in a particular culture. Not everyone is motivated by the same techniques. Even within a single organization, there can be many different cultures — some competitive and some more collaborative, some aggressive and some more passive. Each group will have its own motivations.

As part of the previous process of defining their goals and objectives, self- analysis should be performed within a work culture. Olding explained how a single group may consist of individuals with varying personalities and driven by diverse motivations. Understanding these different user dynamics would improve the design process and customize the system to better fit the user’s learning process. To better understand player types and individual motivation respectively, Richard Bartle’s study on MMOG (massive multiplayer online games) player types and Dan Pink’s book, Drive are recommended for further reading.

3. Assign value to each activity or task. Understand how an action will be rewarded, and whether that reward will continue to encourage that action without creating undesirable ones.

Having some form of an analytics system is a key gamification principal as it would permit tangible and quantifiable results to be generated from user’s performance. It is noteworthy if a reward system is in place, that it should be carefully examined for it might lead to undesirable effects.

4. Plan for iterations and increasing the challenges to avoid fatigue and foster continued engagement.

Building a gamification system is somewhat akin to building a game from scratch. There will be the inevitable strengths, flaws, and inconsistencies within the initial design. Thus, it is essential gamification designers to always leave room for future changes. Following our previous example of a reward system, there is always the possibility of rewards causing unintended consequences. However, the adverse effects would be lessened and easily resolved when system designers take into account of possible errors. Setting up a gamification system should be viewed as a long term scenario and leaving room for changes to the system would help ensure the longevity and effectiveness for it.

5. Find the needed skills to help with user interface (UI) design, game design or implementation.

Once business process professionals have performed their due diligence, they can find external resources to help set up the gamification system. Olding recommends Bunchball, BigDoor, Badgeville and Gigya, for providing software platforms and services; and Cynergy and Dopamine, for consulting.

It is easy to bedazzled by the over-simplified idea that gamification system is a one size fit all solution. That by simply using game mechanics such as points, badges and achievements, challenge and leaderboards, one could solve any pervasive problem. However, these are just basic mechanics, the tip of the iceberg for gamification and a small piece that makes the system whole . With that, I strongly encourage professionals to explore beyond these basic mechanics and understand the game thinking philosophy of gamification as well. By fully understanding that gamification systems design involves both game thinking and not just the basic game mechanics, it would be lead to future growth for the gamification industry and its application in the corporate sector as well.

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