Gamification means using game mechanics in environments outside the game. Playing in places where, in theory, you should not play. At work, for example. Or should we play at work? We all have in mind Google´s offices, where you can find from foosball and game consoles to slides and pool tables. Playing is fun and, above all, is something we want to do. Studying is not fun. Learning by playing, yes. Everything that involves play, involves a better predisposition by the user. That is what gamification is all about: involving someone through play to develop one or more tasks that would otherwise need more work. It is a very old concept, but its application to the digital world is much more recent. And its use is growing.
It is estimated that in 2018 the business applications of gamification will generate $ 2.8 trillions. Marketing departments, Communication, Internal Training or Human Resources are betting on the gamification: in 2017, 45% of the brands in the UK acknowledged using some aspect of gamification in communication tasks. And 65% of companies with more than 50 workers say they will invest more in gamification processes in the coming years.
And gamification works. Santander or Royal Mail are two of the companies that in recent years have opted for it with excellent results. For the bank, the goal was to encourage more customers to use their website. They began to award points to customers for each operation performed on their website. The more operations, more points and prizes were given, and thus, more likely to get awards and recognitions. Customers accepted the challenge, and started playing. As a result of this Santander was able to triple the number of operations and duplicated their customer satisfaction.
Royal Mail applied the gamification not to the customer, but its employees. The challenge was to improve its website. Each worker, if they wanted to check the website and share their views, could do it. Each time a positive improvement was suggested, the worker gained points. Those who would get the highest scores would receive from a keychain to a tablet as rewards. These are not very spectacular rewards, right? The workers suggested 50,000 improvements in 13 days. Of which 30% were applied. A success that achieved several objectives: to motivate workers, identify with the company and the savings of several thousand pounds that would have had to be invested should an external consultant be hired instead. Employees were not competing for the tablet. They competed to be the one having the best suggestions. That is what the game is based on: compete and win. The prize, most of the time, is not the most important.
These examples explain for themselves the success that gamification is having on business environments. Siemens developed a game similar to the popular Farmville in which the company replicated and adapted the concepts to make the employees aware of what operation should be completed: from the manufacturing process to the relationship between the different departments and areas. The success was total.
Internal training departments are the ones that are getting more benefit from gamification. Workers want training, because it involves play. The percentage of active participation in training involving gamifications sessions quadruple compared to activities with no games. HR even begin to apply these techniques in selection processes. “You can discover more about a person in half an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” This is what Plato said twenty-five centuries ago. Indeed, the concept is not new. But its application to the business world is. One last fact: in 2012 Google did not register any search related to the term gamification. In last April only the research was 44,600. The trend is evident: gamify or die.