Gamification in the enterprise: How to win with mobility

Business tasks can become more like play, but you need the right network strategy in place first. Start with these important elements in mind

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Companies that want to “gamify” aspects of their operations had better be on board with at least two other technology trends: SaaS and smartphones. According to an industry analyst, they pave the way for enterprise gamification.

Gamification is the term used for activities that transform business tasks into games. A good example: Slalom Consulting, a business-technology consulting firm in Seattle, Wash., created a mobile app to help workers get to know colleagues. Teams are encouraged to score points by matching names to faces, according to Network World. Gamification is one of the latest ways of injecting some fun into the workplace while promoting important business functions, such as increasing sales and adhering to prescribed workflows.

That Slalom’s preferred game platform is the smartphone should come as no surprise, judging from Carter Lusher’s comments. Research fellow and chief analyst at Ovum, he says many organizations find that mobility is the place to begin with gamification. Using smartphones, companies ensure employees can access games anywhere. Mobile accessibility is particularly important for organizations that want to extend gamified processes to sales and other roving staff members.

Lusher also notes the importance of SaaS. Software as a service is the primary presentation system for gamification. SaaS, of course, means companies using gamification software source it over the Internet from a gamification service provider, rather than install the software on premises.

“As long as the organization is thinking about handling software as a service and how to exploit mobile devices, they’re ready for gamification from a device and network point of view,” Lusher says.

Many organizations have embraced SaaS and smartphones. In that gamification builds on these concepts, it’s even more important for businesses to have strong mobile-usage policies for smartphone users to follow and mature service-level agreements with network and SaaS providers, to ensure data security and service uptime.

All that said, some technology-market watchers suggest businesses might not need to worry about gamification infrastructure for a while. Although discussion of the gamification trend bloomed in 2012, David Armano, managing director at Edelman Digital, says in a recent Harvard Business Review blog post that “gamification has lost some of its lustre, taking a back seat to useful functionality. A recent Gartner study urges us not to ‘believe the hype.’”

But for anyone wondering if gamifying is here to stay, Arun Sundararajan, digital economics professor at NYU Stern School of Business, says it is. He told Network World that gamification is part of yet another trend: people wanting workplace technologies similar to home technologies. That trend isn’t likely to end soon. What’s more, many gamification techniques have a long history in business. Sales contests, for instance, are nothing new.

Even if the underlying concept is tried and true, the technologies that now support gamification—SaaS and smartphones­­—are thoroughly modern. Businesses need solid mobile and SaaS policies if they really want to benefit from process-play.

Keep on thinking outside the box by downloading, ‘Three Ways IT Can Drive Innovation In Customer Service,’ today.

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