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What Is Gamification And How Can It Help Your Business?

The important thing to remember is that the main purpose of gamification is to achieve a goal.

As a business owner, you possess a natural desire for competition, for achievement, to gain status, to express your organization’s viewpoint across your market and to gain a foothold of success in your niche. The same can be said of any gamer who sits down to do battle or achieve a high score at their favorite Mmorpg or Rpg game. This is what gamification is all about.

Drawing a parallelism between business owners and gamers has brought about the gamification of business. As a significant trend that’s been gaining ground since its widespread use in 2010, gamification takes advantage of the gamer mindset and game mechanics to use in a non-game context to help business owners in solving problems.

With the positive energy gamers derive from competition, achievement and expression, the same could be said for applying gamification in business. It has been used to engage users, to improve data quality and timeliness, to shorten the learning curve and to get better returns on investment.

Some of the core strategies in gamification that is used in business include:

  1. Rewards – when players accomplish certain tasks in the game, they are rewarded points, badges or level ups. The same can be said in a business. Providing team leaders and employees with incentives to “fill up their progress bar,” so to speak, can make for a more efficient and effective workplace for a business owner.
  2. Competition – as a business owner, you can encourage friendly competition in your organization with the incentive of visible and tangible rewards that will encourage your “players” to be more driven to achieve.
  3. Make existing tasks feel like games – one way to relieve the drudgery of work is to make work seem like a game. As a business owner, you can use a variety of gamification techniques such as giving more interesting choices, providing an onboarding process complete with tutorial, adding narrative and increasing challenges in the organization.

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Gamification need not be confined to team leaders and employees alone. Many companies have started using gamification techniques for marketing and customer retention purposes. Yahoo7 has successfully launched the Fango mobile app to help users interact with its shows, subsequently rewarding them with badges they could share on their social networks. Starbucks awarded FourSquare badges and discounts to customers for multiple check-ins in several of their branches.

The use of gamification has also extended to gathering information on users and using rewards to get them to answer surveys for market research and brand recognition purposes. It has also been used to attract customer engagement by encouraging certain types of website behavior, such as spreading links, Facebook “Likes,” and Tweets.

While the popular strategy of adding the element of fun and achievement can benefit you as a business owner, there has been some criticism that the gamification of business has a downside for the end user. The allure of “playing a game” can temporarily blind a customer to the reality of credit card debt, and subsequent payments. As a business owner, you might want to engage your target audience with incentives that are more meaningful than mere fluff.

Likewise, while the hype of this popular trend might see you leveraging the opportunities in gamification, you’ll need to make sure that it meets your business objectives, as well. Otherwise, you’ll be leveraging an impotent strategy that will do nothing much for your organization in the long run.

The important thing to remember is that the main purpose of gamification is to achieve a goal. Enterprise owners will need to identify their business objectives and line those up with their end user or customer objectives, while creating a mutually enjoyable “game environment” with those objectives in mind.

Photo courtesy of Waag Society.[/expand]

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