by Terri Willix, Delivery Manager
I recently attended GSummit 2013, the annual gamification gathering for the experts to tell their stories. Just over 1,000 people met at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco, ready to be inspired and hear the latest trends and innovations. Just in case you were wondering, there were not gaming consoles set up at every corner. No Ataris or Xboxes. No Nintendo Wii’s or PlayStations. That would be another type of gaming convention. So besides the funny “gamification” buzzword, which is becoming increasingly unpopular, this was a meeting of the minds to discuss a fairly serious business concept: engagement.
Don’t get me wrong…we did have fun. Gabe Zicherman, who runs the conference and is a top author and spokesperson for gamification, likes to do conferences differently. Gourmet food trucks and killer cupcakes replaced the typical conference box lunches. Sessions were limited to 18 minutes in length (thank you, Gabe). A customized gamified Twitter application was used throughout the sessions, allowing check-ins, ratings, instant statistics, prizes and more. A few zombies stumbled around as a clever way for one vendor to hand out cards and drive traffic to their booth. An “I Scream” (by Woopaah) truck was parked outside for anyone wanting to let off some steam.
So what is gamification really all about? For one, it’s a strategy that startups, Fortune 500s and non-profits have all growingly invested in, growth up 300% in last year alone. It touts concepts like leaderboards, levels, badges and points to help motivate your customers or your employees to participate. But, again, the big message at the conference this year was: no matter what approach you take, it’s really about engagement.
The conference was kicked off by Will Wright, founder of SimCity, as the keynote speaker. Will Wright enlightened us with insight on what makes the gaming experience most engaging. For instance, he found that players seemed to have more fun failing than being successful, that success too easy leads to boredom. The keynote then followed with several other thought leaders of engagement; some targeted at the end consumer and others who discussed the role of enterprise gamification.
One of my favorites was Brian Wong, 22 year old CEO and co-founder of Kiip, a mobile rewards network that is redefining mobile advertising. According to Brian, you must create “meaningful” moments when it comes to engaging consumers. Ads as they have worked in the past, are more of a nuisance; but when targeted at the right, personalized moment, bring meaning and purpose that goes the distance. Another couple favorites were Jesse Redniss from USA Network and Tim Kring, screenwriter and television producer of series such as Heroes and Crossing Jordan. Both Jesse and Tim spoke about how they have taken the “tv watching” experience to a whole new level, allowing viewers to truly become part of the action, engage with characters and each other in new and exciting ways, and even the shape the outcome. A truly interactive experience.
More and more of our customers are asking us for advice on how they can use gamification concepts to engage their customers and employees. At Appirio, we not only want and need to be experts to help our customers, but we want to participate, dive in and learn from our own experiences. Appirio uses gamification concepts with CloudSpokes and internally in many different ways. If you talk to any Appirian, competition and collaboration are in our blood. Whether it’s earning company store points, selling the most in a given quarter, posting a #shoutout, or competing in the 50k pushup challenge, Appirians like to engage with one another, work and play, and feel tuned in.
So my role in all of this is to help build an incredible engaging experience for our employees where they can feel challenged, but most importantly have fun and feel a part of something. What I learned this year at GSummit 2013 has me pumped up and ready to deliver just that!