Monday, February 13, 2012

#ALGORITHMS: "Gamification Boosting Enterprise Websites"

By offering the same kind of incentives as massive multi-player gaming platforms--unlocking badges, moving up by levels, competing against others, and having fun uncovering surprise content--enterprises worldwide are quickly adding smart gamification software-as-a-service (SaaS) to their websites.

Samsung used Badgeville's gamification platform to turn its website into a social-media mecca.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last year or so, you must have noticed the gamification of dozens of popular websites, from Samsung to NBC. Smart gamification, delivered via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, adds to enterprise websites the elements that make massive multi-player online games (MOOGs) so popular, namely hierarchical playing levels, the unlocking badges, and friendly competitions designed to make website visits fun--like a game.

Unlike merely adding links that post "likes" to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, gamification introduces the element of friendly competitions for rewards--including badges, sweepstakes, and special product discounts--as well as allowing ordinary consumers to ascend to higher levels that make them super-heros among their friends. This type of reward system is similar to the accolades they would get from conquests in massive multi-player online games.

In the rush to gamify enterprise websites, a number of SaaS companies have sprung up almost overnight, including BadgeFarm, Bunchball, and the self-proclaimed leader in gamification, Badgeville. Their business model is to enhance enterprise websites with "social loyalty" platforms that turn content, commerce, and community branding into a self-directed experience that exploits the psychology of gaming to keep users coming back for hours at a time. These are the same characteristics that get users to spend hours on end in massive multi-player online games like "World of Warcraft."

"We don't create games, we use game psychology to create game dynamics that drive behavior, then apply it to business objectives," said Badgeville's Kevin Akeroyd, senior vice president of field operations. "Gamification creates a rewards space, which is what users get when they perform the desired behavior."

Desired behaviors are typically the same as they were before. They include reading about new products, watching demonstration videos, making comments, posting reviews, and sending "likes" to external social media platforms. The difference now is that the user earns points for each action--which can be redeemed--and badges which can be proudly proclaimed with "bragging rights" to fellow users.

Badgeville claims that gamifying the typical enterprise website boosts key business objectives by 20 to 250 percent, prompting the company to recently expand its reach with a Cloud Connector Program that allows enterprises using its SaaS to plug their users into the other popular online services such as Bizzareboys, Jive, and Salesforce.

"Our Cloud Connector Program provides a software suite that enables plug-and-play integration directly with other leading enterprise applications, helping to enhance business eCommerce and customer loyalty," said Akeroyd.

Since user have to register to participate, a detailed profile of their likes and dislikes can be amassed, feeding analytics that also drive the enterprise's existing marketing efforts.