Sight shows us just how awesome gamification can be. And apparently the answer is WAY TOO AWESOME.
The key components of Enterprise Playability are gamification and video-game-like usability. When designing an app with EP, a couple of important questions must be addressed early on: What should users be rewarded for? And which functionality should be playable? Two of the fundamentals of EP are:
- Make it easy for users to meet their own goals
- Reward users for meeting business goals
Understanding user goals is just as important as understanding business goals. In user-centered design, designers must capture and design for both.
Great video games are easy to play because they make it easy for users to understand what to do and how to do it. They keep users engaged by rewarding for meeting specific goals. Think of an arcade shooter: You pick up a gun and shoot at stuff. Fun! Easy to get! Your simple user goals (“shoot stuff,” “blow stuff up”) are easy to achieve. Your score, however, is tied to shooting the right stuff, and also not shooting the old lady holding a bag of groceries. Those are the business goals, and you get points when you get them right.
In an enterprise app, core functionality should support the primary goals of the users, and make them easy to achieve . Rewards should motivate users to meet business goals. Think of a point of sale app. The user wants to inform customers, make sales, and get a big fat commission check. Management wants to sell more of the high-margin items, capture customer phone numbers for follow-up contact, and keep customers coming back.
So the easiest activities in the app should be:
- Sell stuff
- Get information about stuff
- Sell more stuff
Rewards should be for:
- Selling the right stuff
- Capturing customer contact info
- Repeat visits from happy customers
The end result is happy users who are excited about doing their best to meet business goals.
Off the topic of what to do (enterprise playability), and on the topic of how to do it, Steve Blank’s Lean Startup has the makings of a revolution. After you read Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup, and then pick up a copy of Steve Blank’s The Four Steps to the Epiphany, you will no doubt like me be looking for interviews like this:
Here’s a quick article about the problems Ron Johnson had at JCPenney: Ron Johnson Didn’t Understand Apple. The post is not about playability per se, but at this point in history, “playbility” won’t be what users are asking for. Jobs had it right (and this article parses it well): users know what their problems are, but they don’t know the solutions. That’s our job, and that’s where playability can help in the enterprise.
Enterprise gamification is getting a lot of attention these days (more on that later). The value of gamification is clear enough: engage users and motivate them by providing the same feedback mechanisms that games do. Goal-driven design, the idea that software should be designed to help users achieve their goals, is extremely popular for consumer products, but still only rarely practiced in enterprise environments.
It’s the combination of the two that gets me excited. When enterprise software is designed with full adherence to both of these concepts, the results can be astounding. Imagine software that is built with an understanding of exactly what you need to get done — what you want to do, and what your management wants you to accomplish. And imagine then that the software is built in a way that keeps you engaged all the time, trying hard to get to that next achievement, the next milestone, the next level.
Software, even enterprise software, can be built in such a way that users don’t feel like users, but like players. Work may not actually be a game, but making a game of it could make it so much better.
Here’s a good post with some great comments: Cognitive Overhead, Or Why Your Product Isn’t As Simple As You Think. The topic is cognitive overhead, which is the difficulty users have in understanding a product or a feature of a product. While it’s not directly related to enterprise playability, cognitive overhead and cognitive friction are both faces of usability, and improving both is often done well in games, and often done poorly in enterprise software.
Now there’s a title: “Fighting solves everything.” John McNamara’s post contrasts the reward systems in two games, and clarifies the importance of rewarding team success, versus just individual achievement, in an enterprise environment.