Every few months a trendy new tech term emerges and non-tech geeks are left guessing the meaning and how to incorporate it into their vocabulary. One of the few pleasures of geekdom and understanding this slang is chuckling when someone uses it improperly. When most people hear the word “gamification,” they immediately think it’s a term used by Gen X/Y to explain their obsession with video games. However, this is only partially true and has much more to do with human nature and sociology than you might imagine.
Wikipedia defines gamification as the use of game-thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context in order to engage users and solve problems. Most notably used in customer loyalty and employee incentives, gamification is widely believed to be the biggest trend in user engagement by industry professionals. Forbes Magazine says, “Gamification will have a significant business impact and become an important means for organizations to engage audiences at a deeper level.” They go on to predict that 40 percent of Global 1000 organizations will use this technology as the primary mechanism to transform business operations by 2015.
The most prolific example of gamification is FourSquare, a location-based social networking Web site for mobile devices. A user earns points, badges and mayorships by checking-in just about anywhere. The reward comes from sharing these accomplishments and competing with their friends. Over 20 million active users have checked in 750 million times. It should be noted that while gamification is what made FourSquare the leader, they are slowly removing some of these features as their business goals change.
While FourSquare is pulling back, there are plenty more jumping in head first: Microsoft, Starbucks, Arby’s, Samsung, NFL, MLB and DELL, just to name a few. Most of these companies use gamification on the loyalty side to engage their core consumers. Starbucks first offered a branded FourSquare badge in 2010, but has since gamified its own app where club members earn stars that lead to various levels of rewards. Points earned can be redeemed for free drinks and iTunes song downloads. It is basically the traditional loyalty punch card re-engineered.
IMI has chosen to focus our efforts on gamifying training platforms and sales incentives in the restaurant industry. This allows us to reward bartenders, servers and managers for accomplishing business objectives, brand knowledge, sales goals and operational efficiencies. To put this in context, many of our clients utilize Learning Management Systems to execute and track training objectives. These are typically Web-based applications that provide education lessons correlated with multiple choice quizzes. The more advanced systems include learning tracks and mobile access, but very few of these systems are gamified. Our platform can sit on top of almost any LMS to encourage adoption and push engagement.
The gaming community has been shifting to a more social-friendly model for years now. This is when points and levels are shared across your social network to promote your rank and position. We apply these elements in the restaurant structure to create healthy competition within the store, the region and even the company.
Our goal is to identify and promote beverage leaders within the organization who are motivated by incentives, feedback and rewards. However, before you consider a gamification strategy for your company, make sure you’re familiar with the terminology and sign-up for yourself.
FourSquare > Adam Billings, New York, NY