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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.

Internally, SAP uses game elements on its corporate social network to promote participation and collaboration. It's also developed internal apps to encourage specific behavior. For example, SAP is piloting an app that uses gamification to encourage carpooling among its employees.

The app, called "Two-Go," matches up people planning to travel a certain direction at a certain time. Not only do employees get points and recognition for carpooling, but the app helps SAP further its corporate environmental goals and affords employees more chances to socialize and build bonds. SAP staffers may actually find the CEO in their car, something that happened in Walldorf, Germany, where SAP's co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe used the app to catch rides with random employees, says Yolton.

SAP is also starting to apply what it's learned about gamification to products. For example, it is working on an internal travel expense accounting application with gamification features. It would reward employees with points for timely and accurate reporting, says Yolton.

"We often test things on ourselves first and then take it out to the market, so I would not be surprised if gamification was added to the travel expense reporting and accounting app that we sell in the marketplace," Yolton says. In fact, SAP is considering embedding gamification in most, or even all, of its software, he confirms.

Lessons learned: Make sure gamification aligns with the goals of the individuals as well as the goals of the organization, Yolton advises. Gamification, he says, "can't be a management edict." Making someone play takes all the fun out of it, he says.

Location: Global; U.S. offices in New York, Chicago and elsewhere
Number of employees: 266,000
Number of IT employees: Undisclosed

Accenture also started using rudimentary gamification concepts early on, beginning in 2008, says Hsu, the firm's global social collaboration executive. That's when the company rolled out its Addo Agnitio Award to encourage employees to collaborate and share their knowledge via its online community.

Initially, employees earned points by filling out their online profiles and uploading content, for example. That's evolved into a system that now tracks more than 30 different activities, explains Steve Kaukonen, a senior manager on Hsu's team, with the goals of increasing productivity, reducing operating costs, spawning innovative ideas and improving employee engagement.

At first, Accenture rewarded participation with money — each "Celebrating Performance" point was worth $1. And top performers — those who shared the most content or whose blogs were most frequently read — were also designated in the system by a gold star icon.

Still, surveys revealed that employees didn't always feel they were being recognized or rewarded for collaboration, according to Hsu. So today their collaboration scores are included as part of their annual performance reviews.


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