What’s the business impact of gamification ?

In brief : gamification is told to have a positive impact on business because it increases loyalty, favors engagement etc. That’s only half true : loyalty and engagement are not business benefits but levers to achieve them.

I was reading a couple of things of gamification these last days and, when I tried to summarize it all, it appeared clearly that the generic value proposition of gamifcation in terms of business impact stands in three words : loyalty, engagement, advocacy.

Forgive me once again for being a killjoy but I cant’ see any business impact here. They’re gamification consequences that impact the business. Slight difference. And what those who ask what the business impacts of gamifications are want to understand is how to trace and quantify the impact of loyalty, engagement and advocacy.

Gamification : a matter of soft benefits

Knowing we’re talking about consumers, the impact to demonstrate is well known : sales. Nothing more, nothing less. Do you think there’s something more ? Why gamification ? For more loyal customers. Why more loyal customers ? Try the same reasoning with advocacy and engagement and you’ll have the answer. But we can try to refine it :

- more sales

- lower customer acquisition costs

- lower customer rentention costs

- better service when the system aims at building support communities

- same for innovation

But the causality link between the impacts of gamification and business benefits  should be demonstrated. Or rather made possible. If the tools provided to employees and customers and internal processes are not relevant, you support community, innovation system etc. will collapse because the people involved won’t be able to turn an incredible potential into something actual.

What leads us back to the basics : by increasing loyalty, engagement, etc. businesses improve their intangible assets which value is potential and needs to be leveraged by business processes to be actualized.

Now let’s consider gamification applied to employees. Benefits will be found in fields like  :

- productivity / performance

- turnover

- absenteeism

- ability to mobilize people on transverse projects that are not their core mission (and the results of such projects of course)

Here again the same warnings apply.

Turning good intentions into tangible results

This reminds of the endless debate on KPIs. Engagement etc are intermediate indicators, provided one can measure and acknowledge them. The real indicators are finally not numerous and have been know for ages.

In Social Business there’s business. Businesses should we aware of not contenting themselves with good intentions, will and potential, what’s too often the case, and focus on tangible results. And, most of all, wonder how to move from the ones to the others.

Because the real matter is how to turn positive intentions and feeling into measurable results.

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