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How gamification drives business objectives

Matt Kapko | May 9, 2014
As more businesses add gamification to their repertoire of tools, the misconception remains that awarding points or badges for existing activities should do the trick. After all, who doesn't like more points and badges?

DirecTV Embraces IT Failure

"DirecTV wanted to develop a way to change the culture in the IT organization so they created a gamified solution that first-of-all focused on making failure OK and recognizing that failure is going to happen. What they wanted to do was promote more innovative approaches that inevitably carry with them a higher risk," says Burke.

The solution DirecTV arrived at began with a series of informational videos aimed at changing employees' mindsets around failure and innovation. Awards were given to employees who took specific steps to change their behaviors on things like sharing lessons learned from projects that had failed in the past.

Now the company has "failure vault" of at least 120 cases that detail the risks and problems IT staff had with previous projects. DirecTV's IT staff has also adopted a process called pre-mortems, which Burke describes as a "preventative approach designed to head-off failure before it happens at the outset of a project."

[Related: How to Use Gamification to Engage Employees]

With data and insights from the failure vault at the ready, these pre-mortems enable DirecTV to gain more understanding of the risks associated with each project, determine where projects have failed due to those risks in the past and take steps to mitigate those risks in the future.

Gaming Systems of Greater Importance in the Future

"Where we're seeing the most activity right now is in employee-facing applications," says Burke. This is a change from the initial pull around gamification, which came in the form of customer-focused apps from marketing departments.

Practically every day a new gamified application hits the market, but Burke says he is already thinking about opportunities still to come. Complementary technologies like virtual personal assistance could be leveraged to great effect by personal fitness and other coaching type of applications, he says.

It may not come fast enough, but public policy and education are two areas where Burke expects gamification to gain an upper hand. "Implementing the changes that we see in society and developing changes from a policy perspective as well, I think that's a natural opportunity," he says.

"Education is really in the midst of reinventing itself and gamification is not going to drive that, but it's going to play a key role in how education is delivered in the future," Burke says.

"I think that gamification will play a part in what's ultimately going to be the democratization of education," Burke says, "particularly higher education, where the kinds of learning that have not been available to people who are either financially or geographically disadvantaged will become available."


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