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The Games Businesses Play

Gamification may sound silly, but it isn't.
David Rosenbaum, CFO Magazine
April 15, 2012

Go online to Samsung's home page and you'll find, right below the carousel advertising tablets, televisions, and phones, an invitation to join "Samsung Nation." Beneath that is a leader board; in early March, Kenneth Brown, a Massachusetts business owner and a "Level 6 Legend," was on top with 21,900 points. One earns points in Samsung Nation by buying products, submitting comments and reviews to the site, "liking" Samsung on Facebook, and so on.

To the right of the leader board is a rolling log of Samsung Nation member activities, reporting, for example, that Anthony Acosta just "unlocked the Cruise badge" and Paul Bouchard "leveled up to Novice." And under that, there's a promotion offering a chance to win a Samsung product by "unlocking" a badge of one kind or another.

Samsung rolled out all those badges, levels, and activities in November 2011 by integrating its website with a platform from Badgeville, a leading provider of "gamification" products designed to increase customer and employee loyalty and engagement. Since then, its website has received 66% more visitors, who collectively have submitted 309% more comments, according to Kevin Akeroyd, senior vice president of field operations at Badgeville.

Those new visitors have also answered more questions than ever about Samsung's products on the electronic giant's Facebook support page. Deflecting help-desk calls, says Akeroyd, could help Samsung realize "a very material op-ex reduction to the corporate P&L." On the revenue side, he says, "if I'm researching Samsung, and I see all this activity on the site, all these rave reviews, that influences purchases. That allows me to acquire more customers with lower marketing costs. And peer-group commentary is more trustworthy than marketing."

What is gamification? Simply, it is the application of game-based psychology and mechanics to get people to act in ways you'd like them to act. Leading providers of gamification platforms and products include Badgeville, BigDoor, Bunchball, and Gamify (which signed a deal with Major League Baseball in 2011). By 2014, Gartner predicts, more than 70% of the Forbes Global 2000 will have at least one gamified application.

Sharing Is Up Down Under
At Deloitte Australia, product and client manager James Sanders uses the accounting firm's Who, What, Where application (similar to Foursquare, the location-based social-networking site) to share information with Deloitte's 182,000 employees worldwide. He does it so well, in fact, that he's on the top of Deloitte Australia's internal innovation leader board.

When Sanders meets with a client, he enters the contact, the subject of the meeting, and the time and place into Who, What, Where. That entry is then shared companywide on Yammer, an internal social network that is like a corporate version of Twitter. This, according to Sanders, leads to more business for his innovation practice and allows Deloitte to avoid duplication in its client contacts.

Who, What, Where plus Yammer is a gamified solution to the old knowledge-management problem: How does a company get its employees to share what they know with their colleagues? "All of Deloitte's executives, and the CEO, are real active on Yammer," says Sanders, "so everyone is real conscious of sharing on Yammer. The initiative comes from the top." Sanders says he also gets "heaps of different badges" (via the Badgeville application) for talking about innovation, checking in with clients, attending training sessions — in short, for doing all the things Deloitte would like him to do.

"Getting badges in isolation is childish," he notes. "But when they're shared, that's valuable. It's a reward for something you've worked for, and there's nothing childish about that. Then you can share that with colleagues and get kudos from the rest of the firm, and that could be the difference between being known as an up-and-comer and not. You want to be known."




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