Gamification For Business – Interview With Mario Herger

Robert Rabe

There’s a lot of buzz about making business software easier and fun to use, as I suggested in an earlier post. Now, gamification has become a top tactic to do just that.

While definitions vary, this one provides a good starting point for understanding gamification and its application to business:

“Gamification is the process of learning from [the] emotions video games create and transferring them to real-world, everyday-use applications. By using game mechanics problems will be solved by more engaged users.“

To dig a bit deeper into the topic, I interviewed SAP’s own gamification evangelist, successful blog and book author Mario Herger. [Virtual round of applause, please.]

What is gamification and what are the biggest opportunities in that area, but also the boundaries of gamification?

Gamification For Business – Interview With Mario HergerMario: The biggest opportunity is to give people autonomy and feedback in a way that they can learn, achieve mastery, and socialize — and have fun in the process. Today business software gives only negative feedback (“You did something wrong!”) It is not giving you information at all, or it is too difficult to use for beginners and too easy for experts ( = boring.) And the system just keeps telling you how stupid you are, but is does not tell you what you actually should do, or how well you and others are doing.

One of the biggest dangers is that you could set up a gamified system in a way that only considers male playing preferences and sets women up to lose. Another danger is that the data collection process may leave players feeling monitored and controlled, fearful that their managers may be enabled to micromanage them.

What is your favorite gamification showcase? How does it work?

Mario: SAP Community Network. It’s a professional community of SAP experts with 2 million unique visitors a month. The community has been using gamification for over 8 years. With the SCN reputation system users can earn points by blogging, responding to other users’ questions and edit wiki-pages, becoming experts in the process and gaining increased visibility on the leader boards. Many participants have found better jobs and projects; gained access to media and top executives as well as a wide circle of their peers.

The community just relaunched the gamification component a month ago and has seen really staggering numbers. Here is a blog from Laure Cetin, the gamification business owner on SCN.

Videogames use different tasks and / or raise difficulty to keep players motivated as they’re learning. In real life however, let’s say in payroll, your tasks and their difficulty stay the same. Are there game mechanics for scenarios like that, which sustainably drive motivation?

Yes, of course. This is exactly what we want to achieve. Make it easier for the rookie but challenging for the master. You “just” need to figure out what the challenge is today and find the problems for a beginner in an HR system, and then what a very experienced person does. A beginner would maybe start with creating employee accounts and assigning tasks to them. An HR-master might create new career paths and job descriptions (e.g. gamification expert) or coach employees on their careers. I see a lot of opportunities for gamification in HR, and also in big data. As the amount of generated data continues to grow analytics becomes more and more important. Providing everyone with instant feedback is gaining increasing relevance. Gamification can be a way to do so.