Gamification Basics

One of the best kept secrets of enterprise software sellers is engagement. Actually, it’s lack of engagement. We’re not talking about the “disengaged employees vs engaged employees” statistics coming from Gallup. We’re taking about software licenses or software features that aren’t used, with user licenses gathering virtual dust on virtual shelves.

This is a big problem and it’s plaguing many vendors – and the companies they sell to. Enterprise software is sold for a purpose – to prompt process change and promote efficiency. If enterprise software isn’t used, this process improvement isn’t happening. If knowledge management software isn’t used, no knowledge is managed. If CRM isn’t used properly, sales pipelines aren’t accurate or sales information gets irretrievably lost.

The power of habit

The truth is that work is a matter of habit – and new software requires a painful adjustment of habits. Many employee behaviors at work are based on the power of habit – and new enterprise software isn’t part of people’s work habits. Forming habits is a core practice driving good work. Actually, many change management programs use gamification to form new habits.

As change cycles become shorter, employees need more change management – a structured and phased approach to bringing change and using habit formation to get the new behavior to stick.

The power of training

Habit formation aside, employees need to be trained so they can use software to its fullest. Initially, as with any onboarding program, they need to be trained on the simple stuff. Later on, they need to get exposure to the more complex features, but only after they become more confident with the basics.

Some of this can happen in in-class training, but the difficulty of change management and new software introduction is that knowledge retention of software training plummets as time goes by.

That’s why the success of software introduction depends on the use of continuous on-the-job learning that is phased and leveled – for knowledge retention.


Gamification is a great tool for change management and training. But most importantly, since it rewards certain behaviors or activities it can be used for habit formation. In that way, new enterprise software won’t be used once but often.

Gamification prompts behaviors by tracking them in real time and by setting goals for users. It uses fun and narratives to drive this – but the main impact comes from the setting of goals and a sequence of activities to be followed by the users, progressing from level to level. It can suggest next-best-actions, drive new learning (on the job, not in a classroom setting, to drive knowledge retention) and more.

Other uses of gamification can even be forming habits that will prompt users to use software better – for instance using CRM more effectively and in a timely manner – so that the data in the software will improve. A great example is using gamification to drive better reporting in the CRM system, translating into a more accurate sales pipeline.

A case study

While most of our gamification deployments – used to drive better performance – use eLearning and drive changes in behavior, we want to finish this post with a great example of using gamification for a quick turnaround of software use.

One of our customers had acquired many licenses for BMC Remedy, hoping to create a practice of knowledge collaboration. However, after the software was launched, it never gained the critical mass required to become a success and eventually it was hardly used at all. The client decided to check whether gamification can come to the rescue, and it did! The result? A 700% jump in usage rates and the creation of many knowledge management articles in a relatively brief time. Here’s a great infographic showing the results of the project.


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