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GAMIFICATION: Collecting Coins on the Service Desk

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Will generations of IT workers weaned on video games in their youth (such as the hugely popular Nintendo Super Mario Bros format) respond to game mechanics in the workplace?

Argentinian ITSM software vendor InvGate have announced some ‘Gamification’ features this week.

“Gamification is the concept of applying game-design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging.” http://gamification.org/

The logic states that generations of IT workers have been weaned throughout their youth on video games, so game-like features can be introduced to the workplace to increase employee engagement and satisfaction.

In ITSM terms this means being awarded points, badges and appearing on leader boards based on specific service desk actions.

There is much talk of Gamification in the ITSM industry (Gartner plots ‘Gamification’ hype at near peak) – but is Gamification simply marketing hysteria or a real force for change?

Firstly, I believe something smells a bit fishy about conditioning employees to beg, roll and fetch for coins and stars like Pavlov’s dogs. Shouldn’t the work itself be rewarding and fulfilling? But existential angst aside, I think it is a smart idea if implemented correctly and a great opportunity to inject a bit of fun into everyday working life.

Two examples of game mechanics in action stand out from my working career. Both were a similar format with similar goals – one went very well and one went horribly wrong. If I were to pinpoint the difference between success and failure of these two games – it would be the respect staff had for the boss. I don’t think game mechanics can be implemented as a Band-Aid for poor morale and poor performance. It takes the right spirit and the right manager.

Using Game Mechanics to Increase Service Desk Performance

InvGate claims the benefits of gamifying the service desk include great team engagement, increased productivity, increased team collaboration, and aligned objectives.

An important point in the InvGate offering is the ability to reward service desk agents, in a fairly automated fashion, based on perceived quality by users.

These rewards are not based on banal ITSM metrics but by ‘likes’, ‘thumbs ups’, ‘stars’ and other simple measures of user satisfaction (Social concepts that users are likely to be increasingly familiar with outside of work). Never mind first call resolution time – was the user HAPPY?

The most powerful aspect of this for a manager, assuming she has her team onside and playing along – is the ability to align quickly with business goals. Even the largest of service desks can quickly focus on tactical campaigns with a high degree of engagement from agents. Good-bye Service Desk Manager, hello Game master.

A cool offering from InvGate, I’m looking forward to delving further – further info here.

Service Desk Agents Winning Points For Goals e.g. Writing a Knowledge Base Article

Service Desk Agents Winning Points For Goals e.g. Writing a Knowledge Base Article (Click Image to Enlarge)




4 Responses to " GAMIFICATION: Collecting Coins on the Service Desk "

  1. Aprill Allen says:

    I can really see gamification making a terrific difference on helpdesks where some of the staff may have reached that point of feeling demotivated and under-appreciated. Would love to hear from anyone who’s made a difference in their work environment by using a non-software form of gamification, too.

  2. mattberan says:

    A CTO had an idea to use this for testing a release of a custom app we were putting out.  Whoever found the most bugs won the xbox.  Neat idea, but the dude who won just gamed the system and the people who were doing their job just felt like they sucked at it.

    Careful planning, open communication, and realistic expectations and guidelines help make gamification more successful.

  3. Gonzalo Sainz-Trápaga says:

    Hey Matt,

    • Matt Beran says:

      Hi,
      I like the idea of giving power to award credit to the person who consumes or benefits from the activity.

      This is inherent in the work itself. But a game system must support. Still like it, I want to see a customer using it.

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