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Dell Hopes To Score With Gamification

Dell will use a mobile app and gamification techniques to encourage attendees to get the most out of its upcoming Dell World conference.

Dell plans to play games with attendees at its conference for CIOs and technology executives.

At Dell World, which will be held October 12 to 14 in Austin, Dell will use a mobile application linked to BigDoor Media's gamification system to guide conference goers through the event program, while recognizing the most active participants.

Rishi Dave, executive director of online marketing for public and large enterprise at Dell, says it will be an experiment, but one he hopes will enhance the conference experience. "It's not just a BigDoor experiment, it's a gamification experiment--seeing how, in the business-to-business world, it makes sense to implement gamification," Dave said.

The application uses BigDoor's gamification engine on the back end to track and score attendee activities at the show, together with a custom mobile application from Red Method that runs natively on iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone 7, as well as in HTML5 for BlackBerry. BigDoor provides the gamification logic, and Red Method's app provides the user interface, including the icons displayed for achievement.

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Dell also plans to have several large-screen displays set up to show leaderboards of the attendees who are highest ranked in their categories, encouraging a sense of competition. Much as a fantasy role-playing game challenges users with quests to complete, Dell is defining "journeys" through specific topics such as cloud computing as a way to recognize individuals who put the most time and effort into exploring those topics.

There also will be prizes, "although we're still figuring out what those will be," Dave said. Instead of giving out "consumer" prizes, Dell is considering giving out professionally useful prizes such as a free consultation with a cloud computing expert, he said.

The gamification experiment is a way to get people to "attend more and do more and show up more," BigDoor CEO Keith Smith said. His firm consulted on the application design, in addition to providing its base technology, he said.

To make it easy for attendees to log the sessions they attend at the show, the mobile app uses QR codes, a data-rich type of matrix barcode. That means data can be captured by waving the phone's camera over a sign at the show--no typing required. Attendees also can exchange contact information, phone to phone, by using the app to display a QR code on each phone's screen in turn.

Red Method CEO Matt Walton said his firm more commonly consults on creating mobile extensions to enterprise applications, so this more consumer-like app was his first experience with gamification. However, his firm contributed its knowledge of how to make applications work well on small screens, as well as its understanding of "the very, very personal, intimate relationship people have with their phones," he said.

In addition to checking in at conference sessions, attendees can rate those sessions and see how others rated them. At the major events such as keynote speeches, Dell representatives also will be logging specific topics as they are introduced, allowing attendees to vote those topics up or down depending on how relevant and interesting they found them.

"We've always been obsessed with having a direct relationship with the customer--we started on the phone, then went online, and now to social media," Dave said. "Now, we think the next thing brands are going to want to do is integrate the virtual experience with the physical experience."

That's how the game will be played at Dell World.

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