Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Girls ditch Barbie in favour of gamification

As reported by The Indian Express, it appears that girls now prefer video games over dolls.  The order of importance seems to be:

1. Video Games
2. Construction Games (Lego, Meccanno etc)
3.Dolls (Barbie, Cabbage Patch etc)
While the Indian Express states that the research was carried out by E.On, an energy firm, I’ve not been able to find any supporting evidence.  Regardless of how factual this may be, there’s plenty of evidence that traditional consumer behaviours are changing at a rapid pace.  Technology is enabling much of this change.

On-line gaming is not a new phenomenon; however, as Wikipedia puts it, “Gamification is the use of game design techniques, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts”.  A lot of businesses are using this to educate customers on products and offerings, to gain insights into buyer behaviours and to solve complex problems.

My children have been using gamification as part of their classroom learning experience.  With the use of Mathletics, they are able to solve basic mathematical facts through to complex equations.  Throughout the process they’re able to complete challenges set by their teacher and climb a leader board as they challenge their peers around the globe.

I never enjoyed mathematics when I was at school, but had the gamification experience been available to me then, I would have been eager to achieve my gold bar status.  Gamification is taking away the chore and bore while turning the learning into a fun and engaging experience.

People don’t seem to have a natural tendency to embrace change.   However, the markets are rapidly changing and to remain competitive businesses need to be nimble.  Gamification provides companies with an approach to change employee behaviour as the business goes through significant transformation.  It can play an important role in the adoption of new business processes.

Where I work, we’ve been transforming into a Social Business.  With over 440,000 staff around the globe, the challenge is to get employee buy-in.  A key ingredient to enabling people to become more collaborative is an underlying technology, IBM Connections.  But getting people to change how they collaborate creates a challenge.  A lack of technology adoption could be the demise of the Social Business strategy.  It was once said “Culture eats strategy for lunch”.

We use gamification as part of our employee adoption strategy.  Using IBM Connections people can earn virtual badges for achievements.  Below are some of the things which can earn a badge:
  • Create a twitter account
  • Gain more than 10 followers on twitter
  • Update your status on IBM Connections
  • Help solve a business problem
I was working close to a team of people who were not adopting the new technology.  I showed them how the technology could help them to be more productive.  I also introduced the team to gamification.  Each morning (over a couple of weeks), members of the team would come up to me and enthusiastically provide updates on their virtual badge tally.  Not only were they learning how to use a new technology, but they were also using it to solve business problems through more effective collaboration.

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