Gamification Of The Enterprise – post SAP Teched 2011 thoughts and actions

I am a big fan of innojam – despite the pain of sitting through hours of mandatory speeches (after all the sponsors need air time in return for their money and time).  Once we got through the speeches, I had an idea for an enterprise game which I jotted down , and deposited in my pocket. And since I was pretty bored and hungry (ok..and thirsty)  by that time – I looked around, and readily found a bunch of mentors who were ready to go get some dinner. It was the best dinner I ever had at a Teched – and when dinner was over, we were all pretty much psyched enough to go make gamification work.

Actual software part took very little time – between the group we knew HANA, BI 4.0, ECC and so on. And we had some very creative minds who mocked up data, created facebook pages and so on. And then we went around the room,  giving a hard time to other teams. Despite my thick Indian accent, my team “gamely” put me up to go present in front of the judges. We did ok but did not win. I don’t think any one felt bad – we just had more beer, cheered for the winners and went on to the next fun Teched activity.

Once Teched was offer, I started thinking about the possibility of making gamification work in a real business scenario. Since we had more than 10 applications to choose from the innojam – and since we had it on video, and since the memory is still fresh in my mind – I thought why not use these as examples. So I actively checked with people who had an hour to talk to me. I let them watch the video,  explained in more detail – and asked them if this was in real life, will they do it.  Out of 6 people – 1 consultant, 2 power users, 1 IT manager, 1 Solution Architect  and 1 VP level executive –  I got 4 NO and 2 MAYBE as answer.  I tried to give them all the talking points that the gamification keynote speaker used – but still could not convince them that this is useful.  I will try to do this exercise for another week, and see if I can get 4 or 5 more people to sit down and talk to me .

In short – here are the general themes that came out. I am sure I missed a few since this was not a structured survey or anything.

1. I have real games that I like. Why won’t I just play those like I do today?

2.  I don’t want my employer using this to game me. Is this another way to exploit me?

3. Will this lead my team to have unhealthy competition? or will they get carried away and use it to skew real business results ?

4. What happens when they get bored with this game? will productivity drop? What will it cost to keep building new games etc? Can I measure ROI? Even if it works – is there a big upfront change management investment?

5. How can I define a game? I have colleagues in 4 continents and what appears like a game to me might end up as an insult to one of them. Is it worth the trouble to deal with it?

6. With economy not doing well, aren’t people motivated enough to do a good job now? Why bother tinkering with regular business models now and take a chance? Contrary to what consultants tell me – my business has not actually changed fundamentally. is this a way for you guys to skim more money off my company?


There are three possibilities I can think of here

1. I did a poor job explaining gamification to these people – since I only know what was conveyed to me a week ago at Teched.

2. The examples at innojam were not enough to resonate with these people

3. Gamification is just another buzzword, and even if I explained better with nicer examples, people will not buy in.

Till I talk to a few more people, I am not going to make any final judgment for my own case. But the questions that came up are all good ones in my opinion.  As always – I am all ears to hear what you folks think.