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Gamification's new role: gathering user behavior data

Gamification's new role: gathering user behavior data

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Computer games were mainly seen as a way to enhance training. Now, they may help capture data on user preferences, says Deloitte Consulting.

Gamification -- the application of gaming approaches to addressing business problems -- is now a big part of business computing. Projections show seven out of ten Global 2000 businesses will be employing gamification in their operations by 2014, and one out of four business processes will be incorporating games by 2015.

These numbers were shared by Doug Palmer, Steve Lunceford and Aaron Patton, all of Deloitte Consulting, in their latest analysis of the growth of gamification in business settings. In gamification, devices or incentives such as leaderboards, badges, missions and levels are applied to the front ends of applications to help accomplish real-world objectives. "In a business setting, that means designing solutions for everything from office tasks and training to marketing or direct customer interaction by combining the thinking of a business manager with the creativity and tools of a game designer," the report states.

Gamification, initially limited to training or one-off applications, has moved well into the operational realm, the analysts state. Lately, the practice has been extended to areas such as marketing, where it is employed as a means to attract and retain customers.

The next phase for gamification is gathering data on use behavior, Deloitte states. Here's the business case:

"As more platforms track behavioral data, the aggregate of data could provide insight to the business. This is a phase where many, if not all, enterprise systems of record 'talk' to each other about a user’s behavior throughout the system. At an even more advanced level, these data could be linked with third-party data providers, open data sources and paid data sources."

The report cites examples of companies already employing gamification techniques to better understand customer preferences or employee actions, the Deloitte report states:

  • Samsung Electronics: The company's Web page, Samsung Nation, "is a place for Samsung enthusiasts to look at new products, provide reviews, socialize, troubleshoot and more. As Samsung Nation members complete these various activities they earn points, unlock badges and can be featured on a leaderboard. Customer-facing brands like Samsung have seen increases in time spent on site, user generated content and shopping cart clicks."
  • Jive: The enterprise social business software company announced the launch of the Jive Social Intranet Solution that "combines social features and gamification features, such as missions and real-time feedback and rewards, and integration with productivity applications and traditional intranet capabilities. Specific elements of integration include Microsoft Outlook, Office, SharePoint, mobile access, and privacy features. This system will allow for the tracking of more than 100 employee actions including creating new documents and providing helpful responses to discussion questions."

The caveat to the use of gamification for big data is "that it may require organizations to develop and agree to terms on standards for sharing data, while maintaining strict data privacy and security standards," the report cautions.

(Photo: Joe McKendrick.)

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Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure