Intranet discussions have been dominated by the subject of social tools since 2009: Twitter and Facebook for the enterprise; increase rapid productivity with rapid connectivity; break down silos with social tools; capture implicit employee knowledge; build knowledge communities using social; etc. The list goes on.
However, I am not entirely convinced that social tools ala Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (status updates, following colleagues, commenting, and news feeds) can provide measurable business value. I’ve heard colloquial accounts and give merit to the arguments that they help capture organizational knowledge, that they contribute to the organizational story and that they connect employees across boundaries (both physical and hierarchical). Still, I’m on the fence.
I can barely keep up with my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn streams; scratch that, I can’t keep up with my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn streams. I use lists, and groups, and sign-up for summary emails and notifications; I use HootSuite and have apps on every mobile device I own. Not matter what tools I am using to try to synthesize the information, I have been unsuccessful to date (and I have no kids, only 1 job, and a decent amount of free time). I’m young, technically savvy and really love the connectivity of these platforms. I’m totally behind the idea and yet, I kind of suck at it. I just can’t keep up; the amount of information is exhausting.
So, in terms of consuming, I don’t do a great job. And in terms of contributing, also not so hot. With so many ways to contribute, and no measurable impact tied to any one specific avenue, it’s hard to know where to focus my effort. Because I’m not a active contributor (multiple interactions a day), I feel that when I do contribute, it just falls into a black hole of data.
This begs the question, if I can’t even keep up with social communities in my personal life, how on earth do enterprises get their employees to adopt and effectively use social tools within the organization? Personally, I think they will have a pretty tough time doing so.
I think that social tools would provide real business value within the enterprise if users were only exposed to information that was relevant to them, if they were better able to filter the information available to expose only what they need and if they had better parameters given to them about what type of content they should be contributing. I believe that it will be the gamification of the intranet that will help get us there (especially in terms of what type of content users should be contributing).
So what’s so exciting about gamification? Game theory has long been used to explain economic behaviour and is used to explain political and sociological behaviour as well. It is not a new idea. What is new however, is the application of gaming techniques to everyday tasks and behaviours.
Gamification is the infusion of game mechanics, game design techniques and/or game style into anything (gamification.org). The term is typically used to describe situations where game play elements are incorporated into non-game situations to solve problems, change behaviour or engage audiences.
Some common examples of gamification are:
- Loyalty Programs – for every dollar you spend at our store, you collect points. Enough points and you get a prize.
- Black Credit Cards – if you’re special enough, you get a black credit card. You get special status, status that others are also trying to achieve.
- Foursquare – if you visit a location enough you earn a badges and points, and you can even be granted a mayorship for visiting more than anyone else.
Most online social communities also have some form of gamification built into their system: CNN iReports hands out badges, Twitter displays the number of followers you have, etc.
So if marketers have been using these techniques for years on consumers, what is the next frontier? The corporation and the internal consumer! I believe that gamification will be a significant component in the next evolution of intranet design.
Gamification of the intranet will allow the business to assign value to certain tasks and reward those that perform those tasks most efficiently, most often, and most successfully. Reward systems automatically imply which tasks are of the highest value. This will allow the business to chose which user activity is most important to their success and build an entire game around achieving it.
Gamification in SharePoint
For example, if knowledge management is an important component to the success of your intranet and an important factor in helping users better perform their jobs, metadata is extremely important. Making sure that users always tag content with the appropriate metadata though is easier said than done. Users are busy and don’t always see the value in spending additional time tagging their content. Here’s an example of how metadata tagging could have gamification elements applied to it:
- Metadata tagging
- Users that assign the most metadata earn the most badges
- Users with the most badges are featured on the homepage or receive other rewards (i.e. money, gift cards, extra vacation days… in can be anything as long as your user base values it)
- Users with certain badges become leaders of a metadata community of practice (COP)
- Users with the most badges are featured on the metadata community of practice (COP) leaderboard
- “The metadater” – Tagging x percent all of their uploaded content with metadata
- “The metadata groupie” – Ensuring that x percent of content that they edit is tagged
- “The search sheriff” – Submitting x number of search feedback forms to improve findability
- “The metadata adventurer” – Tagging x number of pieces of content on their team site
- “The taxonomy professor” – Submitting x number of taxonomy feedback forms suggestions or corrections
Now, not everyone in the organization is going to fall over themselves to start tagging content with metadata. However, those with either a propensity to do so, or those that are attracted to the rewards offered by the game, will. And your intranet content goes from being haphazardly tagged with metadata to systematically being tagged with metadata by educated and enthusiastic users.
Besides having better metadata, a great side benefit of this game is that you start to build organizational capacity around taxonomy, metadata, and search. You build a community of users that care about this as a component of the intranet and will advocate for it on your behalf. They are more likely to educate their peers of the value of metadata and those that are most keen will start to search out additional information on taxonomy, metadata and search. And eventually, you will be able to recruit your metadata power users to developing new badges and new components of the game.
This is just one example of what I believe to be boundless opportunities for gamification within the enterprise.
Gaming is fun, it’s collaborative, and it’s motivating. I believe that by appropriately injecting it into our work lives (rewarding the most valuable business behaviours), we will see an increase in productivity and efficiency.
I would love to hear your thoughts!
Gamification for the intranet:
- Enterprise 3.0: Moving From Engagement to Participation Through Gamification (CMS Wire)
- Seth Priebatsch: The game layer on top of the world (TED Talks)