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Buzzword Soup: Gamification

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As part of our continuing series “Buzzword Soup,” every so often, we explore a popular term in the cloud and communications industries.  Because many terms are used loosely by vendors, analysts and commentators, we find it helpful to draft simple English, non-technical explanations for words and phrases that might otherwise be confusing or misunderstood.  This week, we explore “Gamification.”

What is it?

Gamification is the idea of using a gaming paradigm to encourage people to exhibit certain behaviors outside the context of an actual game.  Its use can get people to engage in chores or tasks that might be considered boring or distasteful such as completing surveys, proof reading documents or filling out forms.

My favorite non-technology example is the lottery.  States needed to generate more revenue, but were reluctant (or unable) to raise taxes or fees.  By turning the collection of this revenue into a game, constituents happily turn over a dollar or two at a time, resulting in billions for the state coffers without the political risk of an overt tax increase.

So, while the concept is not new (think sales contents), its potential to improve the way users interact with technology in a business setting is only now being explored.

How is it used?

Early examples of gamification in technology appeared in social networking services like Facebook and foursquare, which award achievement “badges” or special titles to users who share their experiences.  These are examples of marketers encouraging customer engagement and desired website activities.

Gamification is such a powerful behavior motivator that Gartner expects that “by 2014, a gamified service for consumer goods marketing and customer retention will become as important as Facebook, eBay or Amazon, and more than 70 percent of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application.”

M5’s Take

M5 loves a good game!  Internally, we employ an application called Scoreboard created by our customer Hooopla.  It drives Salesforce.com adoption and performance through friendly competition, recognition and gamification. We display stats, goals, actions, leaderboards, and competitions on animated external displays.

We are having so much fun that we want to share the idea of gamification with our customers. M5 is working with Influitive to build an interactive platform where our customer and partners will be offered exclusive challenges and rewards. We are constantly inspired by our customers' and partners' unique knowledge, skill, and experience. Through this platform we will provide a space for them to provide their expertise feedback, and become involved in the growing family of M5 customers. In return, we will reward their efforts with opportunities to give back to the community, network, get discounts on services, and much more.

Look for even more from us on this topic as we explore ways to help sales, marketing and customer service departments to use the wealth of data captured by the M5 phone system to create energizing, productive and fun contests for employees.