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3 heavyweights give gamification a go

Tam Harbert | Sept. 19, 2013
Think gamification is just a gimmick? NTT Data, SAP and Accenture beg to differ, and they've got the ROI to back up their stance.

In addition, NTT Data has launched a new consulting practice dedicated to gamification for its clients that want to explore the discipline.

So far the centers have generated "about $5 million in new services," according to Sayeed. Given that the company spent about $1 million to develop the new gamification practice and $200,000 to $300,000 to build Socially, "this was a very clear ROI," says Sayeed.

The company has recently expanded its internal use of gamification in two ways. In the spring of 2013, it launched a training game, called NTT Data Samurai, that guides employees through a series of questions to assess leadership skills, then offers customized training in the form of a quest (users must meet certain challenges and attain certain levels in order to scale Mt. Fuji). The application is helping the company pinpoint top performers as well as those who may struggle in certain areas.

"The nice thing about a game is that it collects incredible analytics, and so every manager can see the progress of their team members through the game, where they did well and where they are having issues, so they can offer to help them offline," explains Sayeed. "It starts painting a complete and quantifiable picture of your existing talent in the organization."

In addition, the company is piloting another training program, a secret-agent-themed game on smartphones, designed to help salespeople learn how to sell new products.

Lessons learned: Although they initially focused on extrinsic rewards like Apple iPads, NTT Data found that intrinsic rewards such as peer recognition were more effective motivators.

Along those same lines, if an organization's goal is to foster collaboration and communication, then gamification elements should be cooperative, not strictly competitive, Sayeed advises. To encourage this, NTT Data added "share only" points -- points that one employee can give to another for giving a good answer to a question or helping out in some other way -- to its social network.

Finally, Sayeed warns, it's only natural that some employees may try to game the system. They might post massive amounts of information, much of it unimportant or irrelevant, just to pile up the points. NTT Data has moderators who watch for this, Sayeed says.

Headquarters: Walldorf, Germany
Number of employees: 65,000
Number of IT employees: 1,900

Gamification has produced some valuable benefits in SAP's customer-facing SAP Community Network (SCN), where members can earn points and badges, and can advance levels, by helping fellow users in need.

The system has proved so popular that outsiders are using it as a rating system for talent. "We've seen individuals use their SCN status in their resumes and on LinkedIn profiles," says Mark Yolton, former senior vice president of digital, social and communities at SAP. "Their SCN status really indicates a degree of expertise and collaboration above and beyond the norm." That can help when looking for a new job or trying to raise their profile with their current employer, says Yolton.


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