Avoid a generic gamification implementation by being selective
This is an Op-Ed by Carter Lusher, Research Fellow and Chief Analyst, Ovum. Carter Earned this Op-Ed by being a Top Gamification Guru
Nascent technology markets like gamification often see a proliferation of vendors. In part this is due the low barriers to entry because the capital needed to develop SaaS-based product is minimal because of cheap infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) offerings as well as inexpensive development tools.
Startups are likely to target a particular niche within a nascent technology like gamification when developing their initial product because it is easier to identify likely early adopters to sell to and to create differentiation. As a consequence, startups focus on the very specific functionality that will appeal to the buyers in their target niche. Then as they climb the learning curve and start gaining market momentum they will broaden their functionality evolving into a more general purpose platform away from a niche tool.
In the case of gamification, the vendors have targeted broad categories, e.g., employee facing or customer facing, as well as specific use cases like sales contests, talent management, software engagement, social networking, community building, wellness, and more. This means that any particular vendor might have a very narrow set of functionality focused on its targeted niche. As a consequence, it is not a best practice to select a short list of vendors to investigate for a gamification project solely based on a generic functionality list. A detailed list of all potential gamification functions would eliminate many relevant vendors that had focused on functions relevant for a niche. On the other hand, a high level function list would likely not eliminate any vendors from consideration. So the traditional technique of functionality comparison is not appropriate for gamification at this time.
At this stage of the gamification market development a better tool for identifying relevant vendors for a project is going to be a use case comparison. This technique first specifies the use case that the manager is targeting for the gamification project and the business value desired. Next, the manager identifies the relevant functionality for that use case along with appropriate administrative and customization capabilities. It is at this point that the manager starts compiling the list of relevant vendors for that use case. The vendor list for a use case should not focus only on the most specific niche vendors as platform-oriented vendors like Badgeville and Bunchball will likely have customer experience for the niche as well.
A use case-centric comparison approach is good for pilot projects where learning about gamification technology and techniques is the real objective and not find a permanent tool.
How will you select your next gamification provider?
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