Knowing your user is key--Part 1: Motivation
By Erikanollwebb-Oracle on Jul 05, 2012
I was thinking where the best place to start in this blog would be and finally came back to a theme that I think is pretty critical--successful gamification in the enterprise comes down to knowing your user. Lots of folks will say that gamification is about understanding that everyone is a gamer. But at least in my org, that argument won't play for a lot of people. Pun intentional. It's not that I don't see the attraction to the idea--really, very few people play no games at all. If they don't play video games, they might play solitaire on their computer. They may play card games, or some type of sport. Mario Herger has some great facts on how much game playing there is going on at his Enterprise-Gamification.com website.
But at the end of the day, I can't sell that into my organization well. We are Oracle. We make big, serious software designed run your whole business. We don't make Angry Birds out of your financial reporting tools. So I stick with the argument that works better. Gamification techniques are really just good principals of user experience packaged a little differently. Feedback? We already know feedback is important when using software. Progress indicators? Got that too. Game mechanics may package things in a more explicit way but it's not really "new". To know how to use game mechanics, and what a user experience team is important for, is totally understanding who our users are and what they are motivated by.
For several years, I taught college psychology courses, including Motivation. Motivation is generally broken down into intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. There's intrinsic, which comes from within the individual. And there's extrinsic, which comes from outside the individual. Intrinsic motivation is that motivation that comes from just a general sense of pleasure in the doing of something. For example, I like to cook. I like to cook a lot. The kind of cooking I think is just fun makes other people--people who don't like to cook--cringe. Like the cake I made this week--the star-spangled rhapsody from The Cake Bible: two layers of meringue, two layers of genoise flavored with a raspberry eau de vie syrup, whipped cream with berries and a mousseline buttercream, also flavored with raspberry liqueur and topped with fresh raspberries and blueberries.
I love cooking--I ask for cooking tools for my birthday and Christmas, I take classes like sushi making and knife skills for fun. I like reading about you can make an emulsion of egg yolks, melted butter and lemon, cook slowly and transform them into a sauce hollandaise (my use of all the egg yolks that didn't go into the aforementioned cake). And while it's nice when people like what I cook, I don't do it for that. I do it because I think it's fun. My former boss, Ultan Ó Broin, loves to fish in the sea off the coast of Ireland. Not because he gets prizes for it, or awards, but because it's fun. To quote a note he sent me today when I asked if having been recently ill kept him from the beginning of mackerel season, he told me he had already been out and said "I can fish when on a deathbed" (read more of Ultan's work, see his blogs on User Assistance and Translation.). That's not the kind of intensity you get about something you don't like to do. I'm sure you can think of something you do just because you like it.
So how does that relate to gamification? Gamification in the enterprise space is about uncovering the game within work. Gamification is about tapping into things people already find motivating. But to do that, you need to know what that user is motivated by. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is one of those areas where over-the-top gamification seems to work (not to plug a competitor in this space, but you can search on what Bunchball* has done with a company just a little north of us on 101 for the CRM crowd). Sales people are naturally competitive and thrive on that plus recognition of their sales work. You can use lots of game mechanics like leaderboards and challenges and scorecards with this type of user and they love it. Show my whole org I'm leading in sales for the quarter? Bring it on! However, take the average accountant and show how much general ledger activity they have done in the last week and expose it to their whole org on a leaderboard and I think you'd see a lot of people looking for a new job. Why? Because in general, accountants aren't extraverts who thrive on competition in their work. That doesn't mean there aren't game mechanics that would work for them, but they won't be the same game mechanics that work for sales people. It's a different type of user and they are motivated by different things.
To break this up, I'll stop here and post now. I'll pick this thread up in the next post. Thoughts? Questions?
*Disclosure: To my knowledge, Oracle has no relationship with Bunchball at this point in time.