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3/15/2012
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Bunchball Throws Personalization Into Gamification

Nitro Flamethrower update enables companies to target missions and goals to individual employees.

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Just when you thought you had gamification figured out, Bunchball has started talking about "gamification 2.0."

Gamification is an application design technique that borrows from some of the mechanisms games use to engage the competitive spirit, with recognition and virtual rewards for the winners. Bunchball is one of the specialists offering a cloud-based platform for defining the rules of the game and keeping score. Now founder and chief product officer Rajat Paharia believes the rules of the game of gamification are changing.

"We've been doing gamification a long time, since 2007," powering consumer games and cable TV set-top box applications and more recently enterprise applications such as integration with Salesforce.com, Paharia said. "Doing the enterprise stuff drove us to a big realization," he said. "If you're creating a gamification system for the sales team, a one size fits all system doesn't work. You need to tailor the system to the individual."

Gamification enthusiasts talk in terms of sending users on "missions," but where a war-game player might be sent to liberate Iwo Jima and a fantasy game player might liberate the dragon's gold, an enterprise user or team of users might be challenged to hit an aggressive sales goal. However, charging every member of that team with accomplishing the exact same mission might not make sense. In order to hit an overall company goal, the members of the team responsible for lead generation, telephone sales, and field sales all need slightly different goals, Paharia said. "This is like the way, at one point in time on Amazon.com, everyone saw the same store. Then at some point there was a cut-over, and everyone saw their own store."

[ Want to level the playing field? See 4 Ways SMBs Can Score With Gamification.]

Individual goals are important, but they also need to be be coordinated with the overall mission of the team, Paharia said. "Inside the enterprise, people love part of something bigger. The peer pressure not to let down colleagues is an amazing motivator."

Gamification was one of the most talked about trends at the South by Southwest conference this past week, prompting the Wall Street Journal blog to publish a series of perspectives on the buzz and the reality of gamification.

Competitor Badgeville recently introduced a mobile gamification software developers kit and won a partnership with customer feedback giant Bazaarvoice.

Bunchball is one of the pioneers in gamification and claims that its Nitro platform was the first in the industry.

Employee motivation specialist Maritz is one of the Bunchball customers that has been helping test the personalized edition of the platform, dubbed Flamethrower. In a statement, Maritz engagement designer Nicole Powers explained why. "A gamification strategy is not 'one size fits all.' With Nitro Flamethrower, we'll be able to target challenges and missions to specific user segments," she said. "The best part is that we don't have to write any code because our admin console does it for us. The pre-built widgets cut our launch time in half. Now that our design team can control the user experience, we will be able to iterate and improve our engagement strategy on the fly, which is critical to our industry."

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and facebook.com/thebyard

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Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/18/2012 | 1:24:05 PM
re: Bunchball Throws Personalization Into Gamification
I wonder if, in addition to having individual goals, you have to have individual incentives.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
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