Are gamification partnerships meaningful?
In the development of any nascent technology market there is a stage when partnership announcements start to increase and gamification is no different. For prospects and customers of gamification vendors it is important to take into consideration these partnerships when evaluating vendors for short lists and selection. However, not all partnerships are created equal so enterprise and public sector organizations need to carefully weigh partnerships as part of their evaluation criteria. To complicate matters, gamification startups often do a poor job communicating what the partnership really means and the value it delivers to customers. As a consequence, managers have to develop the skills to dig into the details of partnership announcements in order to make informed decisions about the relevance and value of the partnership for their organizations.
Partnerships come in all types from application integration, embedded solutions, systems integration consulting, reseller channels, and more. In addition, the importance of the partnerships can vary widely with the low end being “press release-ware” partnerships that provide minimal value to customers and almost no investment by the vendors involved. At the high end are “bet the company” partnerships with major investments from both sides that might impact not just the vendors, but could be game changers for the entire market. With so many moving parts the only way to evaluate partnership announcements is by having a standard framework that systematically looks at many aspects of how the two vendors are working together.
There are many potential criteria for evaluating the significance of a partnership. In fact, there are too many potential criteria so it’s important to have a practical approach. For example, I have developed a partnership evaluation framework that has four categories (motivations, investments, sales commitments, and durability) with five criteria each. For each of these categories I do a side-by-side comparison for both partners, which revels many insights about the nature and importance of the partnership announcement.
What’s the win-win-win?
The motivations underpinning a partnership are also an important point of analysis for gamification customers and prospects looking at partnerships. Motivations are not a discreet item that fits neatly into my partnership evaluation framework, but provides critical insights into the long-term relevance of a partnership. For example, the value of a partnership is very low if both vendors in an announcement are reacting to their arch competitors’ moves with a quick-and-shallow me-too reaction.
Recommendations for enterprises and gamification vendors
Enterprises and Public Sector Organizations – If you are considering an initial gamification project or are expanding an existing gamification program with additional technology it is recommended that you include partnerships into your overall product evaluation process. Partnerships can provide value for the customers as well as the vendors involved so need to be considered. In addition, the quality of a gamification vendor’s partnerships can shed light on its ability to executive and importance in the overall market.
Gamification Vendors – The vendors have to do a better job of communicating about their partnerships to both prospects/customers and the influencer community. Simply issuing a press release is insufficient. Major partnerships need to be supported with full sales and market communications campaigns. Otherwise vendors run the risk of business value of partnerships going unnoticed.
Carter Lusher is an independent gamification market observer tracking the evolution of this nascent technology market. Follow Carter on Twitter at @CarterLusher
Cover Image by Pierre Metivier