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Digital Business Insights Podcast #2 - Gamification for Business Growth

Did you know that you can win customers, motivate staff and grow sales by playing games? In this episode of Digital Business Insights, Darren talks to An Coppens about how gamification can be used in the business world.

Listen on Itunes |  Listen on Stitcher

Podcast Highlights

3.00 - What is Gamification?

6.02 - Why Game Psychology is now engrained in Business.

8.10 - Gamification is globally applicable

13.20 - Gamification applies to staff and customers

14.10 - Applying Gamification to SME's through challenges

18.50 - Positive Feedback makes a big difference

19.10 - How Linkedin grew from a Gamification approach

22.40 - Knowing your target customer is key

32.20 - Gamification doesn't require a big budget

35.00 - Practical tips to take forward



Liz: Hello, and welcome to episode 2 of Digital Business Insights. If you’ve not listened to Episode 1 yet, you can find it on, or by clicking the link below this podcast. My name’s Liz Hardwick and as always I’m joined by Darren Jenkinson.

Darren: In today’s podcast, we’re going to be looking at the very exciting area of gamification, the idea that by engaging your customer, clients and staff in a fun and engaging process it can actually make them more productive. I know we do a lots that have a gamification element and you’re very into your Yoga and Medictation which might be a preview for an upcoming podcast, but a lot of the apps you use and games you play have a gamification element to them.

Liz: Yes, for example my favourite app of the moment is called Sattva, and that’s a meditation app and the whole idea of that, the gamification element, is that every time you get to a certain stage, you do a certain number of meditations, you get trophies, you get rewards. You also get to connect with friends or people you’ve never met before and play a game to see who has done the most meditating.

Darren: It’s really interesting, because just that game element, knowing that you have to do something today to keep up with your targets, let your friends know that you are still achieving a place in a leaderboard can be a real motivator. Anyway, rather than us talking about this, we managed to get hold of An Coppens from Gamificationnation, she sat down with me to talk about how she works with businesses across the world to include this concept in the way they work. I started off by asking her to explain what the word Gamification means and why it’s so different when asking different people.

An: Yeah, and it's true. A lot of...there is a lot of confusion even between the gamification gurus. There is a lot of confusion as to what gamification is, what it can do. What I like to work with is to call it the application of game design, mechanics, dynamics and psychology to none game processes like business processes such as HR, such as Sales, Innovation. Whatever you have, let's say a number of steps to complete in order to complete a process in the business. It's scenario that you can potentially gamify.

Darren: You mentioned there about psychology, I think that's the bit that gets me quite excited about the whole concept of gamification because it shows, isn't it?...that when you put the element of game into something, whether it's work related or personal, people do tend to engage a little bit more.

An: Yes, Absolutely. I mean games are so successful because they keep, I suppose stringing you along to the next piece and then next piece and then next piece. And if you look at most business applications like your Word, your Excel but also, let's say business process applications like CRM systems and those types of things, most of us find it dreadfully boring to have to interact with it. So, and you know... there are fun ways to actually make that more sticky, more engaging and really the psychology is what drives our behavior. So, in my view, gamification is, let's say 80% psychology, 20% the game mechanics that you stick on to make it work but...and psychology then is based on human behavior so what as a human are we first most likely to do, what as a human drives us to do something better than before. So, it's really getting into your user and understanding who you dealing with, what drives them, what motivates them and when you get that right, then you can design your process to be as effective as possible. And I suppose I was gonna give the example of Amazon. Amazon as a website has a lot of gamified elements in it that make you want to come back in actual fact to make suggested searches based on what you have previously been doing and buying. It makes it as easy as possible so their introduction of the one-click-buy is one way of making it easier for you to buy and some people will say- well that's just good user experience. It is, but they have done a lot of tests on this to... so to see what works and then in what categories does this apply. So you find that not in every category will this be applied to you.

Darren: I couldn't agree more but actually what really exciting is that it's not a new idea or is it?...something that business been doing for a long long time, that we have always done but the digital aspect... what we can now do with digital, just opened up a lot of new opportunities.

An: Absolutely, absolutely. I think it's an enabler. I actually also think that in a funny way, games and game psychology has been ingrained in business. I mean if you think about business leaders and the amount of years they have done strategy games, the amount of times that business has been done over a game of golf or game of something else. I mean it's part and parcel of our lives. Only now, because of technology, we can bring it more explicitly into the workplace as well. So, it's a kind of marrying the two. And I think, it's been a part of us, some of us are better at playing the game of work inside a work place than others, you know, it's about strategy, it's about tactics, it's about learning the rules of the game and if you think about work and business that way, it becomes also way more fun in my view to look at it.

Darren: It's a really facinating area to work in. Tell us a little bit more on about how you came into this line of work. What was the journey for you?

An: Actually, little bit by accident. I was already working with game elements for years and years. In fact, in my first business which was a coaching business, I used a lot of game techniques because they worked. I didn't realize it was called gamification until about 5 years ago when I stumbled across the term in terms of learning and development. And then I read everything, did Master's in it and absorbed all the material possible to actually say- well actually yeah, I know it works because it has been working for 15 years of my clients and now I want to know how I can make a business out of it. So, for me, it was a sort of reverse engineered approach but it's been great fun so far, I have to say.

Darren: We have been talking for a while now about, especially about the work that you do in gamification. I love... I love this that there is a global need for this. You have been travelling all over the world speaking to these different businesses. It's not something that just works in one country...something that's globally applicable.

An: Absolutely, absolutely! I mean my company is based in London. So, I set up with the intent of actually attracting clients in London. And of course, the first client would have to come from UAE. So, very logical progression! And the next one came from Australia. So, it's like Okay. Something is going really good here.

Darren: So, you definitely racking up the air miles at the moment.

An: Yeah, I do I do. I mean, this year is gonna be a bit...bit funny. I mean, I am already booked. I mean I do talk a lot. So, I speak a lot or least or try and speak in small amount on the topic of gamification to, let's say business leaders in HR and because that originally, was my background. So, in the learning and development, HR and employee engagement sphere is where I have been most active throughout my career. So, I wanted to stick with that and apply game technique somewhere because I come then from a place of what I know and what I know has worked. So, this year alone, I think I am in... starting in London at Betts which is big learning and development fair…then Istanbul... I think Mumbai, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai and I have a few more trips to Amsterdam, Paris. So, yeah, it's bringing me all over the place.

Darren: And I think that's testament to how good you are in what you actually do. But...

An: Thank you

Darren: I find it really interesting that gamification is kind of a way of life for you because…Isn’t it? Because you have gamified the gamification industry! You now move in a global you rank in terms of people who are qualified to actually talk about it. 

An: Yes, yes. In actual fact, there is a gamification goal leader-board which is compiled by a UK company that used to be called Rise...or they are now called Rise and they were called LeaderBoarder. And so, all of the gamification goals are measured against each other and I am in the top ten. I know I ended 2015 on rank 5. I haven't seen the new one. Yes, so that usually comes out around this time of the month. So, would be interesting to see where we go. But I have been in top 10. Yeah, I was in top 10 all of last year. So, which kind of, is a testament to all the social media work I do. So...and obviously, there is...if you share good content, people will re-tweet it, re-post it and comment on it. So, that's what you are actually measured on. So, it's not necessarily on your gamification performance but it's on your social media performance. So...

Darren: And that's something I want to talk about a little bit later actually because you travel a lot in all these different places. 

An: Yeah

Interviewer: You speak at conferences. You do presentations. But suppose the times in we require a common place idea so it's where it explains to people. Do you find that most businesses you talk to, get it?

An: Some do, some don't. What I find it usually takes from the decision to look into it to the actual buy tends to...depending on the size of the company between 6 weeks to 6 months. So, if there is smaller organization, some people get it. The people that actually have played active sports- athletes, former chess players, video gamers- they get it and they get it at a different level than, let's say the General Manager who has never played in competition on purpose. And they would be more tedious to move but we are serious business and we don't want to do be, there is an element of, I suppose education that goes before people buy but it can be applied to everybody, everywhere. I mean some cultures, so for example in UAE, we have a number of the very senior officials who are big gamers in their civil service and who were looking at civil service related learning and development gamification. A lot of the staff is actually female. And I said- Look, if we keep it hyper competitive, then the females are not gonna enjoy this much because they like a different kind of game. And, we wanna make it more social, more collaborative, more easy going. And it took a number of focus groups for that to actually sink-in and get through because their main people involved would say 'we beat each other and it's great and it's fantastic' and for some people, that's exactly their game style but for others, it's totally not and they would be totally turned off by doing the action in work place. So, it's important to know and to know the difference. 

Darren: And as you say that kind of goes back to the psychological element of what you do. 

An: Absolutely

Darren: With the gamification projects that you design when you work with this, is it the intensified businesses look more gamification for the staff rather than something that is customer facing?

An: Yes, I have done both but generally speaking, let's say 80% of my work is in play focus, say 20% is more outward, customer and marketing focused. And that's purely because of my own background coming from employee engagement and learning & development as such but more and more I get the requests from marketing which was also my first actual degree. So, it's interesting to come full circle in your career.

Darren: Now, we know that we’re aiming this podcast are all a lot of people that may have small to medium sized businesses, who want to grow them to be bigger. Does gamification works then?

Guest: Yes

Darren: What kind of advice would you give to those businesses to actually apply this kind of methodology to what they do?

An: Right. So, first of all, levelling up is always a good term. It's a good game term. What I would suggest is think of challenges that you could engage your customers with because a lot of people don't know the extent of what you can do until they have been a part of, let's say a 30 day challenge. And if you are in online business, you can run a 30 day online challenge. If you are in offline business, you can do a 30 day in-person challenge. So, it doesn't actually have to be online which is a very common misconception about gamification…also that it has to be online. It doesn't at all. So, with that I would suggest is make the steps that you make people take meaningful to your business. So, if you have, for example, a support base business like teaching me about social media for example is... every day, make them do something that will drive them closer to a goal that you know businesses of their type will want to set to grow their following on, let's say Twitter or Linkedin or Facebook, whichever the case maybe. So, set the 30 day challenge with the intent of helping them move forward so they can see results for them and to also teach them that you are the go-to person to help them to achieve that.

Darren: So, that's really focused on a awareness raising. Isn't it? This whole idea of top of mind marketing and always been in the eye line of your customer. That's what this is really trying to achieve.

An: Absolutely. Absolutely! And I suppose what technology with the game is that you teach them step by step. So, if you look at any, let's say, casual game that you play on your way in to work or out of work and thinking things like Candy Crush or Angry Birds or Little Tetris or you know Sudoku or even Crosswords. You know, step by step you get a hint on what's the next step. You don't get the whole game thrown at you in one go and that's key when you are designing something to help you grow your businesses. Make it very much step by step and bring people along so that it's easy for them to take part and then when they achieve their first step, give them the positive reinforcement to say-'Hey, job well done! Good'. Now, Day 2 is and the challenge for Day 2 is and then you keep it up. Keep it motivating. So, you keep people engaged which is what you get when you make a level in one of those games, you get the positive image of something jumping up and dancing 'Wehe, you have so many points on your level up' and that's what keeps you going. If it gets a bit harder, you keep trying and trying until you make it. And that's because it's is easy and off, you know you can do it, it's not that hard, you are nearly there and you have all that positive reinforcement to build up with. So, it is about bringing a process together that people can engage with you and your service daily with positive messaging and also sometimes, big challenges that are a bit harder so they know they have to stretch. So, it's not always giving and get something. 

Darren: It does reminds me actually we visited somewhere with a client recently that their complete sale tickets to events and they wanted to sell huge to an event that was coming up. So, what we did with them was we created a series of social media posts which were basically captioning competitions, you put the photo up and ask people to put the caption up.  

An: Brilliant

Darren: Now the company we worked with, followed that first question was what would you actually offer us a price for that competition and we said to them, especially, for social media, you don't even to offer a price for some people just taking part for having fun, sharing it with their friends is more than enough. It sounds like, from what you are talking about, that positive reinforcement is just saying well done to somebody acknowledging somebody on your social media sites. It can be just as valuable as offering some kind of physical prize.

An: Absolutely…Absolutely! I mean, there is research out there and I mean, I read a lot of research to back up for most of the things I say that most of us get a lot more negative messaging through obnoxious adults than positive. And it takes on average 5 positive messages to balance out one negative. So, imagine you are in work. You got feedback from a manager to say 'Actually today you did only poor' and he is not giving you 5 ways of improving that day or 5 positive messages on top of that. He probably leaves you after, you know, the performance was not up to standard and that's it. So, the more positive, the better it gets. In actual fact, Linkedin, which is a good example about not having to have a physical reward. Linkedin increases the amount of profiles that people filled in just by introducing a progress bar. So, you probably have seen it on top of your profile. It says your profile is 99% filled in or 60% filled in and then, it gives you the first next step to what to do on to get to the next level of completion. That increases profile completion by 60%. So, it's something very simple. It's just that feedback. Most of crave feedback we don't get it enough.

Darren: Absolutely. That’skey to any business is always be feeding back to staff, always be telling them what you think about what they have done but try and make it positive as you can do. Not lying, not positive for the sake of being positive but just give them feedback.

An: Yes, yes. I mean positive and meaningful because you can also...somewhere I might offend a few people here but sometimes if you compare shopping in different cultures... in some cultures, you have somebody standing at the door, 'Hello! How are you?' And you kind of, Oh please leave me alone. Don't annoy me. And then in other cultures, it's you know, something you will never see. So, it needs to be meaningful. And so I over the top positive will move become boring as well as and probably wrong.

Darren: Absolutely. I can give a real life example of that. I went shopping last week and then I went to a budget clothes store. I am relatively cheap. I went in there and you know…you kind of know that you get what you pay for sometimes with the clothes but because service-wise, friendly, smiling, what can I do for you sir...really engaging...

An: Yeah. 

Darren: Loved it…Bought all of the clothes from there just because I needed to. I went to a more expensive clothes store just afterwards and there is this kind of, you know when you get this- we are way almost too cool to engage really know you until the last minute kind of approach. That's the way they were behaving. And actually I didn't buy anything because I didn't feel particularly valued as a customer.

An: Yeah

Darren: So it does make a difference.

An: Well, yeah! Absolutely! It's knowing your customer. I mean the question is- were you their target customer?

Darren: I think that sums me up quite well. I think I am exactly the sort of customers budget stores aim at

An: (Laughs), I didn’t mean that as such but you know I mean in technology stores, I am a bit of a gadget geek so I am off to browsing around in the gadget stores and I will very rarely be approached. Bring my partner along...male young guy and immediately there is somebody over trying to help him. And you know, it's fascinating how you know, in some stores, they have profiling information and they only go after those who sort of closely look like the ones that could potentially buy. And I mean from a store, that's a dangerous. 

Darren: So that’s all about profile. Isn't it? If the store knows the type of customer more likely to buy from them, I suppose they will put more effort into the type of customers that they have defined...could not be why I am getting ignored I suppose.

An: Bit of both. I think it's always a bit of both. The higher fashion end stores do a lot more research in their type of customer. If they have a good training department, it will also be passed on to the actual retail staff in the shop. And then, they will get training as to how to interact with it, with those types of customers, what those types of customers would like. And you know, and to relieve, aims at providing that. If for example, the store is just well managed and well managed from a culturally suitable perspective, you may just have some ground rules like your basic smiling, be friendly and be helpful. And that could be enough in some cultures but maybe not at all enough in others. So, it' have to be culturally sensitive and where possible in gamification, I do encourage to profile your users. So, for good gamification design, you usually have a number of types of users that interact with your gamification or interact with your business process. So, let's say, looking at it from a business perspective, you have obviously the customer and the employee but then within those, you might have the female customer who is the main decision maker which you might have the female influence which is maybe the dog show or the younger of the two who might have a input. You know, so it depends on different people that you interact with on a regular basis and what they prefer. So, in companies, I always do a number of focus groups, a number of interview sessions and a lot of observation on how do they actually interact with the process already. So, worked with sales company who do recruitment so they are recruiting both clients as well candidates and one of the things they already have leader-boards which is very normal in sales environment but what we saw and was that new people were on the same leader-board as let's say the ones that have already had established links, connections and business. So, the younger ones, the new starters, effectively didn't gain motivation from the leader-board. They probably were more demotivated by it. So, what we did is we changed it around to suit, to only compete with the ones that were starting in the same quarter as you. So, all the Q1 starters were pitched against each other and you could measure against people of your own level and see how you were progressing rather than to pitch against the best. Now you will find over time, it becomes interesting to pitch against the best because then you are really levelling up to that point but to get started, a relative leader-board as you call it, is a way more motivating and then we tracked activities as opposed to closed deals because every successful deal in the sale usually has a number of activities that proceed it. So we figured out okay the grid culture does XYZ in steps before to make it happen and then okay so the new recruit should learn the activity step, do them as often as possible and the chances of them being successful becomes a lot higher. So, and that's how you build forwards and backwards, how you work with gamification.

Darren: It's very easy to make that comparison between the types of stuff that you are talking about and the types of computer games  used to play. I used to be a big world of warcraft fan and I do remember the very early days when I was a low level player. You will see the high level players, you would actually think I want to be like those, I want to aspire, you will try and learn from them to bring yourself to same level but there is also that realization, isn't it?... the fact that the so good, have been going for so long that not being able to perform as quickly as you would want to at the level that they can play on. That could also be quite demoralising.

An: Yeah. Exactly and what's interesting in difference between men and women is that women opt out a lot quicker than men do so if...and it applies to applying for jobs as well as going for, let's say a business deal. If a woman doesn't know 90% sure that she has a good chance, the chances are 45% of the time, she will back out whereas a man, 90% of the time, even if they only have 10% of a chance, still give it a shot.

Darren: Is that just a gender difference that men tend to have more realistic expectations?

An: Well, it's not even that. I think it's also socially encouragement-wise from young age- most boys get encouraged 'just give it a try', 'just go for it' whereas girls are usually told 'oh be careful you are a girl' and you know I think there is a societal element in it. In the same, I mean it comes from a study where boys and girls were pitched against each other. If a girl thought she had a good chance of winning in and felt she was equal to the other competitors, she was just as competitive as the next guy beside her but if she felt, she didn't fit, most of the profile, she wouldn't start which is interesting. Same study said that most men overestimated their ability before going into the game which was also an interesting statistic. So, girls are underestimated, boys overestimated and then somewhere in the middle, it balanced out. So and you end up with more guys taking part because most of them will give it a shot. So... which is also still reflective of how business works in my view.

Darren: No, I agree. I think you are absolutely right. Can we move on to talk about few real life examples of how gamification is worth a business is. We have mentioned people like amazon and you have mentioned people and so high end fashion brands. Can it work for smaller businesses just as well as it does for these larger organizations?

An: Oh yeah, absolutely! Absolutely! Let's say I played in a 30 day challenge of a friend of mine who has an online business to help people find their voice in online so it's basically a self confidence but also a video building business. She did a 30 day challenge for the first time I think two years ago or three years ago. She had to close down numbers of people that could enter because it became too successful. So, she and as a result, so what she did, she ran the 30 day challenge for free and at the end of the 30 days, you are offered her training program where she could give you either you had levels of training, then that you could take up. I don't want one coaching different packages of membership so it worked really well. I mean she built a 6 figure business out of it. So, it's not unrealistic. She had really good solid experience, she had been working in the back of television as the preparation person for people before they went on screen. She had been on-screen herself, very prolific on social media. So, she had the right profile to go with it. Another one which I really liked that I came across recently and people listening might also have come across it, is the pizza company. Oh the name escapes me-ZiZZi's. Sorry, ZiZZi ran a promotion around the world cup time where as a visitor, you could actually earn a free meal, a free drink, a free dessert by playing some games. Now, in the mean time, you also signed up to their newsletter and they basically gained a database of people. The ultimate big win for people playing was that they could get a training session with one of the rugby stars or a trip to New York. And I think the trip to New York won in the end but you know, it was a good way of actually building a business for let's say a non-digital business and so I think those two were good examples. I mean sales are a great example of gamification that we probably all take part in. It's always the price of... it scares, it's in certain periods. If you don't have the last one or the first one, means some people do it with launches like if you have a new Apple product, people are in the queue for the first launch if you’re in Harrodsyou are in the queue to get the cheaper deals... You know, depending on which end of scale you are but it works for businesses of all sizes. 

Darren: I think one point to really highlight there is going back to the example of the regular challenges that one of your client says that it does not actually take a massive budget to build something like this into a strategy.

An: Correct. Correct. I mean you can do a gamification on paper and whiteboards. I mean the...what if projects are pilot sized for company. I had a finance team who wanted to improve the level of compliance by other teams in the company. Now they struggled to get expenses done on time and expenses are done correctly. So, the Finance Manager was a bit skeptical about gamification. He said, "We are a serious business. We don't want to do this." And I said, Well Okay". I said "Do not get straight away. Are you willing to give something a go? And I said, “What's your biggest challenge for the team?" And he said, "Well, actually it's to get the expenses in every year, every month and then we need to chase people for their expenses". I said, okay, let's make it a game. So we put on the whiteboard, name of each team in the rest of the company and a little heart beside it. As the people of the team started submitting expenses and they were correct, the heart was being colored in. So, your heart was, let's say 10%, 20%, 40 or 50% full, depending on the submissions. Now, it didn't take long. We were in open panel for this. Didn't take long before everybody noticed this whiteboard with hearts in Finance and you could see people walking up to it and starting to ask questions. When news got to the managers, the managers started to go and have a look at it actively and saying 'Hey guys, we need to do something because our team is being shown up as the lazy ones that were not on time.' So, it took them 60 to 90 days before most of the teams had improved so much that the finance guy rang me back and so he said, "You know what, it worked. I eat my words". But it's this simple.

Darren: Which is pretty much as good a testimony as you can receive.

An: Exactly… Exactly! So, they went on and they did a whole well-being and productivity challenge so they went a lot further then. But it's as simple as that. You can do it with, you know, very simple things. So, the most important thing is that you have a bit of creativity and you know, look out the games you play, look out the people in your organization and what they already play. So, if you have, let's say soccer focused working team or rugby focused or golf or you know, even jogging, running, it depends on what people already play. Tap into that! There are always elements that you can actually play with.

Darren: So, in a moment I’m gonna ask you to start wrapping up and just giving us some kind of practical tips that people who do want to install an element of gamification into their businesses, what practical steps they could take to be able to do so? We’ve only got a short space of time in this podcast and trying to get across everything that's useful is impossible. You have a lot of content on your website, both in the forms of blogs and your very own podcasts as well. Do you want to talk a little bit about the things you talk about more people can expect because I think that would be very useful to a lot of people that do want to take this further.

An: Yup. So, I have a blog 3 times a week as so it's Very simple and easy to find! Every Monday, I have a blog post about a gamification mechanic that I love. Now or then, that I see is useful. So, it can come from a game but I usually make the link back and how that could be applied to business and a business process. And that is sometimes, I stretch the term gamification mechanic a little bit and it's more about psychology. So, for example, today it was about big win and setting people for big win but to actually design the emotional journey for the winner but also the emotional journey for the loser. And do not forget that if the winner wins big, that you actually also lose something. And with that, I mean if you have a new manager that has just been promoted out of a team, they lose their circle of friends because now they are the manager and no longer one of us. So, if you are dealing with corporates or company based structures, be mindful of the journeys that you create. And you know, plan out the different steps. Every Wednesday...sorry, so every Wednesday then I have a blog that focuses on a campaign, a platform or something that I saw that I really liked around gamification. It can be a campaign. It can be a new tool that I have come across. So, every Wednesday, it really varies what I stumble across. Last Wednesday was about the second to do what's when you watching TV, how much time you actually spend either on a mobile, a laptop or a tablet doing other things and how programs can sort of engage the viewer still but on the second screen and how companies have done that quite well. So, it's good. And then on Fridays, I have the feminine gamification viewpoint. A lot of the time, it's about gender differences which are subtle because with gamification, we are tapping into behavioral design, human design and motivational design. And it's, you know, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to realize  that some of us have different preferences to others and I would say that this is the halt warning that I always give to people when they read that one, is that both men and women can behave in feminine and masculine ways. So, you know best whether you are more feminine or more masculine in your ways. And when I talk about gender differences, it's very much in those terms because in some situations, we might respond... I know for sure I might respond in a very masculine way with then in others, I might be very girly and very feminine and in my response, you might vary. So it's sometimes, it's also role models' taught leadership so that's when I keep a little bit more flexible. And then once a week, I now missed a few for Christmas, I also do podcasts and that's a question of gamification which are frequently asked questions I come across in business. So, if you have questions, by all means, fire them.

Darren: Absolutely. It's the incredible amount of content that you are producing on a regular basis and it's great for people that want to go in there now but there is also a future aim isn't there? You plans are to turn it to a membership community where people can get more information and more access to you on a regular basis.

An: Yes, that's right. Yes so, what I am putting together and what I have put together already is, let's say, you don't have a big budget to get a useful gamification design done but you still are passionate to do it is to be part of the community of fellow like-minded people who want to gamify and share I mean the membership community over time. So, answering questions and giving the best of my tools as well. So, I have developed over time, a couple of tools I will always use. People can access to those and then, if people have questions and want very specific feedback on their project, there is a position to do that as well. So, it's what we are building on. So, it has soft launch so far. We are planning a bigger launch in February. So, watch out space.

Darren: It sounds like a fantastic resource. I think for a lot of people, especially sort freelancers or sole traders who say they don't necessarily have the people around them to give them that day to day support, having that place where you can go on, you can leave a message, you can have somebody with your level of knowledge actually come back and answer that question break quickly is a huge advantage.

An: Yeah, and they can also share their own ideas because what I also like and encourage people to do is to share what has worked for them and also share what hasn't because the one thing I always say is in gamification, you might have to tweak. If you think about it, there are...the last statistic said something 800 apps and games are being launched on a daily basis and most of them flop. Angry Birds was the 27th game that Rovio, the company launched before they had success with it. So, you know, in gamification also be aware that you might have to tweak your design a few times before release hits that sweet spot where people are doing and engaging with it as much as you possibly want. So, and I think that's important to remember.

Darren: Yeah, I did hear some of these speaking once, actually saying very similar things that for apps in the future, they need to have a gamification element or a social element to actually grow because it's so competitive out there now that unless you have got something that requires you to invite your friends...there isn’t really that need for it to grow too much. So, if you do want to create an app that is going to be massive then it needs to have some kind of social element to it. It shouldn't work unless you need to invite your friends to also be a part of that process.

An: Yeah, Exactly, Exactly and apps that do well are the ones that we recommend to friends. So, if you think about it in recent times, what have you bought that you got on recommendation of a friend or an associate or someone that you sought advice from. It is I mean social humans are social beings. There is no two ways about it. And that's being the same from when human was invented to today. So, most of us do not live in total isolation. So, I totally think it's true. If I look out the trends towards gamification, you have a trend towards, let's say things like augmented reality where games can make or game elements can make your reality better than it is where you might have an emergency friend all of a sudden becoming an actual image... That's possible. You have VR that's coming out and everyone is sort of going crazy about it in gaming land. Things like the oculus and Samsung VR, I think every big name is on it. So...I mean I think give it another 12 months and it will be so much around us that we probably won't notice. So...

Darren: Absolutely. I still find it quite strange that apps like Foursquare have actually changed the way they do things because the whole gamification element of what they did before the leader-boards with your friends, the earning badges...was actually what I think was this biggest selling point of the service thing that engaged me. Just knowing that you have to go to one more coffee shop to win this badge was real incentive to stick around...

An: Yeah

Darren: ...and use the app more. So I am not quite sure about the thinking behind removing that but I do think it's real shame.

An: And I went through the same actually and they separated it. In fact they separated Foursquare and Swarm. And I mean I have used Four Swarm a few times but it's not as much fun as the original Foursquare so I am with you on that one but then some wonders like TripAdvisor have implemented some of the tools that Foursquare used to have. So, you know, for everyone like gives up on one. Also I saw last week I saw it creeping back in though. If I reviewed a restaurant, I was gonnna earn something. So what I am thinking they are doing more with Foursquare is that to make the rewards more real by offering actual discounts to restaurants or coupons or things that you want some more geo-location related.

Darren: So, it's that more universally applicable rather than just like Mayors and Leader Boards, etc.

An: Yes, correct, correct. Although I love being the mayor of very obscure places.

Darren: Honestly, I used to, I desperately wanted to be the mayor of the place that I used to work at. So, I used to Foursquare every single day when I went to work. Still not made it as mayor, someone would always beat me, still not convinced to this day how it happened!

An: No way. I am a mayor of a waterfall. So I...because I was probably the only one that managed to have a telephone reception in the area.

Darren: Absolutely. So anyone that listens to this podcast and they go excited about this idea of gamification. If they want to apply this to business, what's the first step that you will say, they have to take?

An: Well, first step I would say is understand and look at the motivations of the people you interact with the most, whether, that's customers or whether that's employees. Observe their behavior like a hook. I wouldn't say go follow them. That's a bit creepy but you know, understand their behaviors, look at statistics. If you have any statistical analysis on your website, look out what are they doing, what are they not doing. Look out the actual physical behavior when they are in a store, when they are in a restaurant. Look out where are they going, what's is naturally something that draws them in and then, look out also the games that could apply to your business and look as wide as possible…think sports, think board games, think movie stories, think how... you know...casual games that you can play and see- is there one that you could use and have a goal at. I would say start with a pilot, start small and test it out. And when you are happy with the results and maybe surprised with the feedback, try something bigger.

Darren: That's absolutely one of the key things that I have taken away from this interview is that you shouldn't fear failure in that way.

An: Yes

Darren: You know, what's all gonna happen is if something doesn't work, you scrap it, you try something else but to not try in the first place is just more counter-productive.

An: Exactly… Exactly! And it doesn't always work first time. I mean nobody...I would always like the analogy- if you want to be gold medalist in Olympic Final, you start by failing an awful lot and the only way you got to be that gold medalist is by continuously improving and tweaking your technique and looking back over videos of how well did I do, where else can I change it. And that's exactly how I recommend you see gamification - is look first time around, if it hits, great, fantastic... Absolutely well done and you know keep doing it. You might just strike the sweet spot because you know you are pursuing very well. If it doesn't work first time, don't be disheartened you know think of it like your training to become a champion in it. I mean some of the things I have tried have flopped and that's okay. We have made them work after. So…

Darren: If you’d like to know more about Gamification and the work that An does then check out her website at If you’ve enjoyed this episode of Digital Business Insights then leave us your comments either at the bottom of this page or on itunes itself. We’ll be back with Episode 3 very soon but for now, thank you very much for listening.  

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