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The Future of Enterprise Software will be Fun and Productive

Lithium Alumni (Retired) Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Lithium Alumni (Retired)

Dr Michael WuMichael Wu, Ph.D. is 927iC9C1FD6224627807Lithium's Principal Scientist of Analytics, digging into the complex dynamics of social interaction and group behavior in online communities and social networks.


Michael was voted a 2010 Influential Leader by CRM Magazine for his work on predictive social analytics and its application to Social CRM.He's a regular blogger on the Lithosphere's Building Community blog and previously wrote in the Analytic Science blog. You can follow him on Twitter at mich8elwu.



social-loco-conf.pngWelcome back! It’s been almost three weeks since I last blogged and I have been very busy traveling. Last week was lecturing for the Rotman Executive CRM program at the University of Toronto. And the week before that, I was invited to a meeting for the Points of Light Institute at Senator Nunn’s residence at St. Simons Island to discuss technology for civic engagement and social mobilization. Finally, I have also been invited to participate in a mobile commerce panel at the Social Loco Conference this Thursday (Cinco de Mayo). This article was mostly written while I was on planes jetting this way and that, so hopefully the writing isn’t too rough!  🙂 


Alright, let’s dig in. While I am still quite new to the CRM and social CRM space, I have learned, through interactions with my CRM friends, that one of the many challenges facing Social CRM will be adoption. In fact, traditional enterprise software (e.g. sales force automation) often experiences a very steep learning curve and is not well adopted within the enterprise. Even if it is adopted, people often hate to use it. Employees only use it because their job requires it. On the contrary, people love to play video games. They would even pay money to play. Yet, a video game is just another piece of software.


What is it about video games that make them so desirable and addictive? I covered the answers to this question in the early articles of this mini-series. If you missed them, I definitely recommend reviewing the following posts before proceeding:

  1. Gamification from a Company of Pro Gamers
  2. The Magic Potion of Game Dynamics
  3. Psychology 101: Motivation for Gamificators
  4. Simplicity Counts! Even in Gamification
  5. The Final Touch: Trigger and Gamify
  6. No Game, No Gain: Realizing the ROI of Your Facebook Fans

Today we will use what we’ve learned to address a more specific question: can we make enterprise software more fun and entertaining through gamification? The easy part of the answer is “Yes.” The hard part is “How?”


Why is Enterprise Software no Fun?

Before I address the question of how, perhaps we should ask why wasn’t enterprise software gamified in the first place. With our current understanding of gamification using Fogg’s behavior model, it seems like a “no brainer” that all enterprise software should be gamified.


Gamified software not only drives adoption, it often leads to increased usage through Skinnerian operant conditioning. Users also learn to use the software better through increased usage and encouragement to explore new functionalities. The social gaming dynamics can foster team work, collaboration, and even a healthy level of competition within your organization. The result is ultimately a huge boost in productivity.


gamify software2.pngIf gamification has so many benefits, why wasn’t enterprise software gamified? I hate to speculate, but I suspect that one of the reasons is that fun was never a requirement for enterprise software. Early software architects simply did not understand that fun and adoption go hand in hand. If you make it fun, people will use it. If you truly believe enterprise software can boost productivity (if used properly), then fun becomes a requirement for productivity, since adoption is clearly a prerequisite for realizing the productivity gain from using the software.


It is ironic that enterprise software and the video game industry do not collaborate more. If they had, enterprises could reach a new level of productivity never seen before. So if you ever get involved in software design, make sure it’s entertaining! Never underestimate the power of fun.


Turning Enterprise Software into a Game?

Although there are many ways to gamify enterprise software by incorporating one game dynamic after another, I will propose a more radical idea that utilizes game design to its full extent. Rather than bolting game dynamics onto the existing software, we should re-design the entire software as a game. This essentially turns the entire software into a gaming platform.


What does this mean? It means the software must have the capability to record every single action that every user took, like a complex role-playing game (RPG) that keeps a complete history of every player’s quest. Once, we have this tracking capability is in place, all the game dynamics are easy to implement. Each user will have a profile of their software usage history and achievement. Moreover, they don’t need to actively maintain it. The profiles are updated automatically based on how they use the software.


In the following sections, I will outline some of the most basic principles to guide the process for gamifying enterprise software. And I’ll leave the rest to your creativity.


How to Gamify Enterprise Software?

Enterprise software usually has many complex workflows and functions that most people often do not use. Just looking at the sheer number of menu items and toolbar buttons is often enough to demotivate people from using the software.




This is where a bit of Cascade-Information Theory could help. Why show all the functions that people are not ready to use? Only the most common functions that everyone uses on a weekly basis should be shown by default. The rest of the functions should be hidden, but easily searchable and findable if needed. And once a user uses one of these hidden functions, it becomes visible to him thereafter.


Since all usages are carefully tracked, we can easily identify people who use the software well and reward them with the proper status and recognition. The number of ways in which a user can use the software is, well, virtually infinite, so I can’t possibly list them all here. However, I will discuss three important classes of usage behavior.

  1. Discovery: Users who are among the first to utilize certain rarely-used function and completes a task with it
  2. Completion: Users who are among the first to complete using a set of related functions for a complex task
  3. Proficiency: Users who use certain rarely-used function frequently and completes many tasks with it

Proficiency is actually two categories, because there are two ways to measure a user’s proficiency in software usage.

     3a. Quantity: The total number of times the user uses certain functionality of the software

     3b. Velocity: The frequency (or rate) of usage of certain function


I want to emphasize that these usage behaviors happen to incentivize three of the gaming personalities described by Richard Bartle. Explorers, achievers and killers are all motivated by completion to a certain extent. More specifically,

  1. Explorers have a clear inclination towards discovery
  2. Achievers are definitely motivated by the accumulation of experience points, status and ranks associated with their proficient use of the software
  3. Killers, on the other hand, are motivated by challenge, competition, and the rapid pace of usage as in a first-person shooter game.


Don’t Forget the Socializers

It may seem like that we are almost done, since we can motivate three of the four gaming persona. However, approximately 80% of the populations are Socializers. Explorers, achievers and killers make up only about 20% of the population. So how can we make the software engaging for the socializers? The solution is simple. We just have to infuse social features into the software.


Socializers get their name because they like to socialize in a collaborative non-confrontational environment. So when users search for a particular feature/function, show them others who have used that function. That is, who discovered that function first in the organization; who used it the most number of times, who used it recently with the highest velocity, and most importantly, which of their peers have also used this function. Finally, the software must enable ease of communication with others, so people can ask for tips and advice from people who have used that function.



Much enterprise software experiences poor adoption because fun was never part of the design requirement. However, as we now know, fun can be crucial to productivity, because it’s the key to drive mass adoption, which kicks off the network effect that benefits everyone. The foundation for any effective gamification approach is to keep careful and detailed records of all usage of all functions by every user. This enables the system to reward users in three different ways.

  1. Discovery
  2. Completion
  3. Proficiency: which includes both the absolute Quantity and the relative Velocity

Although this covers three out of the four types of gaming persona (i.e. explorers, achievers, and killers), we must not forget that socializers is still the largest group making up roughly 80% of the population. To keep the socializers engaged, we must infuse the enterprise software with social features that enables their users to socialize.


Alright, this short post is probably an over simplification of what can be done to fully gamify an enterprise software. But it is a start, and it points out some of the basic ingredients upon which you can expand upon. There are certainly many game mechanics/dynamics that we can use to drive a specific kind of user behavior. I can’t possibly cover all of them without turning this into a book. So let’s make this an open discussion. Your creativity and voice are always welcome.


Stay tuned for the next and probably the last post on this mini-series on gamification.



About the Author
Dr. Michael Wu was the Chief Scientist at Lithium Technologies from 2008 until 2018, where he applied data-driven methodologies to investigate and understand the social web. Michael developed many predictive social analytics with actionable insights. His R&D work won him the recognition as a 2010 Influential Leader by CRM Magazine. His insights are made accessible through “The Science of Social,” and “The Science of Social 2”—two easy-reading e-books for business audience. Prior to industry, Michael received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley’s Biophysics program, where he also received his triple major undergraduate degree in Applied Math, Physics, and Molecular & Cell Biology.
Marc Strohlein
Not applicable

Very interesting and nice analysis. What you describe is, in many ways actually "really good software design" that is driven by human behavioral traits, instead of current practice of working off a list of functions to be implemented. I think the challenges here are many and quite steep. Developers that create enterprise software, are for the most part, not steeped in behavioral theory--they simply don't think about what drives people to use or not use an application. Even if they were, how many have the nerve to announce to their bosses that they are building a "fun application" and it might take a bit longer to finish as a result.


Most businesses don't have fun as a core value (I think they should and once had a staff member with the title "Manager of Mirth" but have not had much success over the years in instilling fun in bigger organizations). And, we are straddling generations in the workforce--younger folks get gaming, older folks may like games but have been conditioned that they don't belong in the workplace. Finally, in my experience, especially with CRM applications, many of the implementations that failed were implemented to enable managers to ride herd over their sales people--sales people aren't stupid so they resisted. To the extent that that mentality remains, no amount of gamification will help. I don't mean to be discouraging here--I think you are totally on target and gamification will happen, but it will take a while and require some fundamental shifts in thinking and attitude.

Gautam Ghosh
Not applicable

Hi Michael,


Interesting. I personally agree that engagement and play are critical to enterprise software. However that would also be dependent on how managers and leaders percieve "fun" as a part of work

Daniel Hudson
Not applicable



Thanks for taking the time from your busy schedule to share your thoughts on this very important topic.

Your ideas about a Gamification Strategy for rapid adoption of Enterprise 2.0 Solutions to support fluid collaboration will help business leaders avoid creating a platform brick.  A "platform brick" is a solution designed and implemented with very limited collaboration by a small group of people before understanding anything about the culture or business objectives.  This silo approach is usually followed up by a raging river of cash and other valuable resources to drive adoption.  The flow will continue until this river runs dry or when someone is strong enough to put egos aside and start conversations about real collaborative solutions.


I am also puzzled about why most enterprise software developers and vendors don't collaborate more with leaders in the video game industry.  I believe a background in psychology & sociology will be the new requirement for future enterprise software developers.


Driving Adoption of Enterprise 2.0 Solutions should be a shared responsibility between the players and the platform itself.  Platforms should become more intelligent through the course of user interaction and take the lion's share of driving adoption. 

Q: How much do we need to pay an Intelligent Platform to drive adoption? 

A: $0 

Q: How many bonuses do we need to pay an Intelligent Platform to drive adoption?

A: $0

Q: How many vacation days, sick days, and perks does an Intelligent Platform need to do it's job?

A: zero

The thought of investing into Dumb Platforms is dead.

Enterprise Gamification is far beyond it's due date.


I agree with the idea of implementing game mechanics to embed the role-playing game (RPG) model in Enterprise Platforms for supporting Event-driven architecture (EDA) that leverages the principals of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA).  This approach can demonstrate "The Strength of Weak Ties" by Mark S. Granovetter, a sociologist now at Stanford University.  The father of Enterprise 2.0, Andrew McAfee talks about this in "The Ties that Find".


The exponential value of Enterprise Gamification can be achieved by applying the principals of game theory to players and objects for unlocking the power of collective intelligence.  This collaborative approach to creating game dynamics goes far beyond points & badges for people and things.  This type of model is designed to facilitate the growth of a collaborative culture.  The players (employees) strengthen relationships and leverage resources on their journey of helping the organization accomplish business objectives and achieve their goals.


I am looking forward to hearing more about your ideas.


Thanks for sharing,

Daniel Hudson





Lithium Alumni (Retired) Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Lithium Alumni (Retired)

Hello Marc,


Thank you for stopping by and commenting.


I agree that this is not going to be easy to institute. As you said, there will be learning and education for the developers. Moreover, managements and business owners would also need to understand the value and benefit of gamification. It won’t be easy. However, I believe that the industry will learn from the success of innovative companies that pull this off. And over time, we will all get smarter and do the right things as an industry.


It is true that most business don’t have fun as a core value. But why not! Part of it is probably history, which include our societal value and our education. I think education plays a big part in this. I think this RSA Animation explains it very well. It is also very fun, so I highly recommend watching it.



As you can see from the animation, our world has changed. We are way past the industrial age, but somehow our education system failed to move along.


Finally, I do agree that many early CRM systems, such as sales force automation (SFA), are implemented for the managers, not for the sales reps. There should be some mutual accountability and some checks and balance built into the games too. No one wants to play a game that they are destined to lose. At least not for long.


Thank you again for the comment. I hope to see you again on Lithosphere.

Lithium Alumni (Retired) Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Lithium Alumni (Retired)

Hello Gautam,


Glad to see you here, and thank you for joining the conversation.


As in my reply to Marc (above), I think we have all been educated that fun and work do not mix, which is not necessarily true anymore in today's world. However, many of the more senior people in leadership positions are having a hard time switching out of that mode of thinking, because it is so ingrained into their entire life.


Howver, if we can demonstrate with hard evidence that fun can bring values, revenues, and profits to the company, then I don't think the leaders would object to "fun" as part of work. It may take them a while to admit, since some of them may have spent their life working their butt off without any fun. Deep inside I think a lot of people believe that fun is somewhat important, because many companies have happy hour. Even those that don't have happy hour are not foreign to the benefit it brings. As more innovative companies like Zappos demonstrate the tremendous ROI of having a little fun, more people will eventually follow.


Thanks again for the comment. Hope to see you more often on Lithosphere.


Lithium Alumni (Retired) Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Lithium Alumni (Retired)

Hello Daniel,


Thank you for joining the discussion and share your thoughts.


I’m glad you see the synergy between video game and enterprise software. A platform brick is definitely sounds like a very expensive and probably in-effective way to drive enterprise change.


However, gamifying enterprise software is not free. It does come with a cost, whether it is education or the technology platform, they are likely to incur some initial cost. But once this upfront investment is made, what you said is true. That is the cost for driving adoption is relatively low. Because people are naturally drawn towards using the platform due to its “fun” value.


As in my reply to Gautam (above), I think it is a matter of time that people learn the value and ROI of fun at work. Most people want productivity, but in the world today, a necessary component of productivity is fun. This effect will be further accentuated as the millennials enter the work force. Without fun, you can’t have productivity. So the choice is between have fun at work, or unproductive work that is useless. I think the choice is pretty obvious.

Alright, thank you again for commenting. Hope to see you again next time.


Daniel Hudson
Not applicable



The "platform brick" is differently a costly lesson.  I hope decision makers will avoid this pain and put people before technology.  People working with free open-source software should know it's not free, but it usually helps software developers jump ahead a few levels.  I am impressed with the open-source community and their tireless efforts. 


Gamifying enterprise software is not free either, but the cost is very minimal when a gamification strategy is incorporated early in the development cycle.  This is reflective of your thought on creating the "Enterprise Game Platform".  It is very difficult to "bolt on" game mechanics that actually create value.  Added value can be achieved if the integration process includes a long-term strategy with defined goals that align with the organization's objectives.


What if gamified enterprise software was combined with artificial intelligence (AI)?

This combination could increase the user experience to the level that alters physics and time.

This is that realm where you are so involved in the moment with the realization of everything is connected and you are 100% engaged.  What would happen to productivity and innovation around the world, if people were given the opportunity to be this engaged?


The only thing preventing this surge of productivity and innovation is waiting for tomorrow.


Thanks for the feedback and the video,

Daniel Hudson



Not applicable

Hi Michael


Excellent post and some great information.


I think the word "game" has to be used carefully as it can give the wrong idea to senior level people. Where I have looked to integrate social into enterprise applications we have had push back so now use colaboration that is less "threatening" to the enterprise. I do feel that gamification as a concept is valid but again we have to tread carefully so have created the term "workification". OK another buzz word but we will see how it works out.


I think the biggest challenge will be how we implement game methods into ent software but with much thought, debate and user feedback we will get there. I love the idea of the different levels having different access and have been using this concept in some of our idea's. I also see some areas where a WoW/SL environment could work well so I see there being a mix of simple design/UX concepts e.g. Foursquare/Scvngr all the way to personalised avatars as per WoW.


An interesting journey either way and I look forward to further discussions.

Lithium Alumni (Retired) Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Lithium Alumni (Retired)

Hello Daniel,

Yeah, definitely should put people before tech. Especially for things where people are the one who is going to use the tech, and tech by itself can’t do the job for us. And this is the case for most enterprise software.

Open source is a whole new subject on its own that has very interesting economics. But they’ve definitely done amazing thing. I’m currently using the free open-source Ubuntu Linux OS now. It is actually very good compare to other commercial OS. Bolting on Game Mechanics/Dynamics here and there, can sometimes work. They are just not integrated and there is a lot of integration work that need to be done underneath. Lots of bookkeeping to make the data consistent everywhere. Lot of extra work that cost $. So a most cost effective method of gamifying enterprise software would be to just turn it into a gaming platform completely and record everything.

You touch on a good point, that is actually going to be the subject of my next post. Gamification should be, and need to be combined with some kind of learning system. It can be classic AI, or more recent development in machine learning or just advance statistics. If you look back at an earlier post of this series on the Psychology of Gamification, you will see the discussion on the mental state of Flow. So games must learn and adapt with the user! If they don’t evolve with the users, you can get into the moral hazard of games. Then everything you build up with gamification can fall apart back to ground level. I will talk about this more on the next post. Great that you are thinking ahead. Good observation.

Alright, thanks again for coming back and continuing the discussion. See you next time.

Lithium Alumni (Retired) Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Lithium Alumni (Retired)

Hello PeterGold99

Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Glad you find my work informative.

Yes, the G-word definitely doesn’t ring well in the corporate world. Especially with more senior people who didn’t grew up with games, not educated about the power of games, and don’t understand the benefit of games. Rather than making up another term just to make it less threatening to the enterprise, I think we should take on the task of educating the enterprise and their leaders. It is all about games, whether people like it or not, and regardless if you call it work or business. In fact business is one of the biggest games we play. People should embrace the concept of games or they will be left behind.

Finally, even if the more senior leaders continue to resist games, that won’t last forever. The world moves on. As the new Millennials enters the work force and take on leadership roles, they will understand the power and benefit of game. And they will change the way people work and do business. Moreover, it will be the norm, and everyone will be doing that. The traditional idea about work won’t last long. If you wait long enough everything changes. There will certainly be much challenge. But that is what makes the fight worth it.

Our platform can also implement higher access level as people achieve higher rank. It is one of the many things that work well. But out platform is design as a game from ground up (i.e. tracking all the actions of every user), so that kind of implementation is rather easy on the Lithium platform. But as you said, simple design and UX can definite help. In fact simplicity is an important part of gamification. Lot of game mechanics/dynamics operates under simplifying the task at hand. If you are interested, take a look at Simplicity Counts! Even in Gamification.

OK, thanks again for the comment. Hope to see you on lithosphere again soon.

Not applicable

Hi Mike


I agree that time is a big converter to people's views on games but as you say, we have to educate senior people.


I see you are speaking in the UK at the end of May so I look forward to seeing you there.



Lithium Alumni (Retired) Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Lithium Alumni (Retired)

Hello Peter,


Yes, I will be speaking in the UK at Digital Surrey, May 26 (Thurs) 7pm on the Science of Gamification.


This event as well as this mini-series of blog are my humble attempts to educate people. Hopefully they will contribute a little part to the mass adoption of the gamification idea one day.  🙂


Thanks for commenting, and I will see you at Digital Surrey. Be sure to flag me down to say hello.


Not applicable

finally found some "co-conspirators" on the subject of gamification of work. I'm trying to convince collegues and ICT-departments for years now, without any succes. Thank you for your blogs and clarifications.


Just a quick comment to Mike. What I miss, a little bit, in this conversation is reference to essential learning drives and skills. Since gaming and Fun are hard to sell words to upper level management, reference to essential learning drives might have a better ring to it. ROI comes when people start using systems and software. Thus, the hardest part is getting people to use the products. So, make use of primairy drives. "if I can win something or beat someone(or system), I will put my back into it", If I can join a team/club, I will show my collaborative skills/social side". The drives that are behind the RPG personas. But also the drives that are behind every aspect of human interaction for centuries. From waging war in ancient Greece to playing monopoly, tennis, pictionary, soccer, etc.


Emphasising ROI on a basis of using primairy drives, is probably easier to understand and take seriously for current managment, than explaining the power of RPGs, or the similarities between the personas and employees. And remember; the goal is not gamification. it's a means to an end(user). Fun is not the goal: Fun is the driver behind extensive use, behind steap learning curves.


An idea just came up. For comparison and recognition with older management. Try to describe playing monopoly or Risk in the way that enterprise software is introduced and used in companies. The business case would defenitly not be positive. Alle the rules and possibilities on the board from the introduction. No room for 'bending the rules', always shut down the game (put it back in the box) in the same way, If you encounter a problem, report to the call-center(you have no rights to solve your own problem), etc. The (board)game would not be interesting for people to play with, they won't learn, they find ways to work around the rigid rules, etc. The company that sold the game, would not live long and prosper. mayby, by this type of comparison, they will begin to understand the power of gamification, the power of tapping into primairy learning drives.


Succes, André


Lithium Alumni (Retired) Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Lithium Alumni (Retired)

Hello Andre,


Thank you for the comment and suggestion.


You are right that there is a big component of learning in gamification. It is part of the motivation that I talked about in earlier article in this series: Psychology 101: Motivation for Gamificators. And it is strongly tied to the Skinnerian operant conditioning. In essence, people learn fast if you show them the progress they’ve made over time and the mastery they’ve achieved.


Fun is definitely not the goal, especially for companies. Most companies are only interested in 2 thing: (a) increase revenue, (b) reduce cost. That is about it. Everything else they do, pretty much has to eventually lead to these 2 goals. And fun is a way to increase productivity, which can either directly or indirectly lead to these 2 goals.


However, there are a lot of things that companies don’t want to do. They don’t want to pay us, because it cost them money. But they have to, because without paying us, we won’t work for them, and without that, they cannot increase revenue. I think the same goes for fun. Management just have to realize that fun is a requirement for long term productivity. Just as payment is a requirement for us to work for them. It may be a slow process, but they will eventually get it. Just like eventually, companies start to realize the importance of balanced of work/life. They will learn that treating employees well and taking care of them it is more profitable for them long term.


The same goes with learning drive and skill. These can be view as just a means to sell the idea of gamification, and not the final goal. So that works both way. Great point.


Thanks again for the comment. Hope to see you next time.

Not applicable

Good analysis.


I come from a software development background and am immersing myself in understanding the impact of gamification.I want to make several points.


1. One of the biggest issues in the development of commercial software, meaning software that is developed to be sold to corporations, and especially commercial ERP software, is that the developers work very hard at creating a platform that will appeal to as many customers as possible. At one extreme, you can create a data rich platform that requires a lot of customization to meet any one customer's needs; at the other extreme you can create an application that has tons of features and functions that users can then assemble to create a customized version for their operations.But its hard to consider and design for how any one company will use these systems.


When we talk about gamification of work, we talk about processes, motivation, feedback, awards, etc. I think the real challenge for software providers is to think about how their users will actually use their systems. And when you think about it, every company that uses an ERP system will have unique processes and more important, unique motivations to complete the work. I think this is too difficult a challenge for commercial softrware developers.


2. I don't think its so much about not wanting to mix play with work, as to having a focus on the motivational side of work. Again from a product development perspective, we have focused on how to make work more efficient, not on making work more rewarding.


I've seen a number of posts, where game designers position that gamification is nothing more than good user interface design. Maybe. But UI experts have been around for years. And their focus has been mostly on screen design and mechanics.


I think what the last decade or so of game design has done is to codify the elements of engagement - or as what some people refer to as game mechanics.For software designers this is a new idea.


3. Mark Twain said " Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do." I don't think a game is a game when the players/users don't see it as a game.


For around 100 years since time and motion study was unleashed on the business world, companies have been setting standards for work performance (challenges and goals), measured employee performance against standards (points, levels and badges) and ranked employee performance against the whole (leaderboards). Does this constitute a game? When the rent money depends upon where you place on the leaderboard, it ceases to be fun. Motivating? Yes. Fun? No.


Personally I think we are going to have some major challenges in the adoption of games in the workplace and the integration of games into our systems. I see my kids entering the workplace with a different attitude about work than we had in our generation. And that will foster some attitude change, But I can't image the retrofit of our systems to accomodate gamification. Unless we find a way to append a gamification process layer to our existing systems, its going to be a generation before we see a diffference.


Stuart Silverman

President, Impact Simulations



Lithium Alumni (Retired) Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Lithium Alumni (Retired)

Hello Stuart,


Thank you for commenting and providing your unique perspective from the development side. I can totally appreciate that having been in engineering and development myself.


I totally get the logic behind the design for the 80% philosophy, but personally, I don’t really agree with it. As you said, the problem IS precisely that lot of enterprise software is designed to be sold. Product management often focus on listening to what the decision maker who will sign the check and give them what they want. But for enterprise software, the decision makers are usually not the one who use the software the most. And very often, there is a disconnect between what the decision maker buy and what the employees actually want to use. And you hit this point right on.


I agree this is difficult, but not impossible. The Lithium platform is designed like a game that track all the activities on our platform. We have probably around 400 metrics that we record now. For any one client, 90% of those metrics are never used because they don’t fit into their business process. But across all our clients, we see usage pretty much everywhere. That being said, there are still metrics that we track that are never used. But we track them anyway, because there is no guarantee that they will never be used in the future. If we can track it, we will track it. It is definitely harder, but not impossible. More companies, such as Rypple, are picking this up and are doing precisely this.


You are totally right that from a developer’s perspective, gamification is just good UI and good UX. However, I don’t think there is any inherent conflict between making work efficient vs. making work rewarding. You can have both and we find that it is best to give people the ability to configure how much feedback they want to see. Too much feedback may makes work inefficient, but regardless all activities are tracked behind the scene. They can completely turn off displaying the feedback, but if management or the user want to see the feedback, they can do that anytime. Efficiency is actually a big part of gamification. I highly recommend you take a look at an earlier post in this series specifically about this topic (Simplicity Counts – Even in Gamification).


Again, you are right that work has always been a game, so is education, an life in general. But many of these “games” are very poorly designed. As a result they are NOT fun. I must emphasize that games are not always fun. Many games are so boring that nobody ever play them. Not all games drive adoption. Gamification with points and badges can fail just like anything else. That is the reason why I started this whole series on the science behind gamification, to debunk some of the hypes about gamification out there.


That being said, must emphasize again that gamification is NOT games. Gamification of work is NOT about mixing games in workplace. It is NOT about laying a game on top of our daily activities. It is about using the game mechanics/dynamics to drive user behavior that you want to solve problem in non-game context. Very often making a game on top of work that we need to do will make it so inefficient that we quit doing it completely. People may adopt it for a while due to novelty, but they stop very quickly. I can tell you many examples of this. That is not really making work simpler, which is a important factor the behavior model behind many of the game mechanics and dynamics.


Thanks for the great discussion, comment, and perspective. I sincerely appreciate it. I hope to see you on Lithosphere next time.


stuart silverman
Not applicable

Here it is, 5 months later, and I stumbled across this post again. What a difference 5 months make.


I still belive that enterprise apps did not include gamification for several reasons. One is that we never thought about having to motivate people to use the systems that we were building; we thought that just by providing a more efficient, smarter way of working would be motivation in itself. Second, video gaming was in its infancy and the mechanics of engagement were not as well understood as they are today. Thrid, I agree with the sentiment that businesses felt that games did not belong in the workplace.


I am much more convinced about the virtues of gamifying production processes. But have very little proof. Have you seen examples where gamifying real work has made a measureable difference?