You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. This proverb holds a lot of meaning in almost everything we do in our life, especially when we implement technology to do ‘stuff’. Technology can enable enterprises to become operationally more efficient and accurate, or help them connect with customers better. However, it is difficult to visualize and guarantee the long-term success of technology implementation without weighing it against underlying motivations and intrinsic human behavior (essentially of the people who are supposed to use these systems).
Almost all organizations have issues with respect to technology adoption, such as:
- Users not filling time sheets accurately and on time, leading to revenue leakages
- Delay in expense filing, leading to wrong financial data reporting
- Employees not using newly developed intranet portal for information access
- Employees not utilizing travel budget wisely
Behavioral psychology says that human beings have an inherent tendency to seek out novelty and challenges, to extend and exercise their capacities, to explore and learn. This is exactly what Gamification as a system design concept leverages to deliver more persuasively, and by engaging human and computer interactions, leading to a system that is not just adopted but loved by its users. Stephen Anderson describes some of these principles quite well using the Mental Notes that he developed to help designers design more persuasive interactions.
A few people may think that Gamification is the solution to all technology product adoption problems, which may not be. Moreover, a bigger misconception around Gamification is that, it is an added “layer of fun”. I think it is much bigger and more powerful than just adding a pinch of ‘fun’ because it can potentially impact human behavior in positive ways.
A more relevant discussion would be around ‘sustainability’ of some of these concepts that are derived out of game design thinking. When it comes to games, people have the tendency to either master or trick the games and then find them not so challenging and relevant after sometime. Given this, should designers rely completely on these concepts or should they continue to seek newer ways to design engaging interactions?