May 16, 2011

The Power of Gaming

I am starting to have a lot of conversations about messaging new solutions. It may be that we are in the midst of a new fad or it may be like some other efforts the industry improves by the discussion.

The question is what makes a game compelling and how can it be incorporated into your day to day systems development.

According to Giles Colborne, author of Simple and Usable and a presenter at Devcon5, the answer is not in listening to your customers. Or at least not all of them.

His experience is that you can divide your users into three groups. The terms here are my own. The Feature user, the proficient users and the rest.

Feature users are you most loyal customers and they are very good at coming up with ideas as to what should be next, however, since they represent less than 10 perecent of your base it’s possible that the features they want are not going to be adopted by anyone other than them and in effect add to cost without adding value.

Proficient users are your better starting point, because they are the ones who have found the integration to their job. In effect they are all about value and when they talk to you about your product they are probably rich with ideas that if heard will give you the next advancements for your products. However, like the Feature users they are a minority and therefore you still have the issue of making costly improvements without necessarily getting the bang for the buck.

Which leaves us with the rest of your users, which represents something greater than 70 percent of your base and of course the unconverted.

To capture the heart of these customers two things need to occur. The features liked by the proficient users have to become more intuitive and the feeling of achievement of the gained proficiency has to be acknowledged in order to make the rest of the users interested.

This is where gamification comes in. You do not have to make the product a game, but you have to make the use of product as satisfying as a game. And in these days where social networks abound this can take many forms.

It can be as simple as putting in the same kind of reward noises as on line game, a posting to the boss or the team, a summary of accomplishments to the individual or the group. The point is to acknowledge the activity based on the internal stimulus as well as the value of the software.

As we move to the next generation of the web, applications and systems are going to look more alike as both take advantage of the cloud.

You just have to play the game.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.

Carl Ford (News - Alert) is a partner at Crossfire Media.

Edited by Jennifer Russell


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