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Mobile CRM Gets Gamified

Mobile CRM Gets Gamified

Gamified applications are configured to encourage adoption -- not to fool employees into thinking they are having fun, said Barry Givens, director of product management for CRM at Avanade. "Gamification techniques are valuable tools for measuring employee activities and providing feedback to them on their performance," he added, and are "best leveraged with a rewards system in place."

By Erika Morphy CRM Buyer ECT News Network
10/02/12 5:00 AM PT

CRM is a mature software category with a decades-plus history of development and evolution. Still, one important problem remains unsolved: A lot of employees, especially sales staff, just can't be bothered with it.

Corporate "solutions" have ranged from bribing to arm-twisting to appeals to corporate loyalty. None, though, have worked so well as building gamification features -- or even an entire game-oriented user interface -- into the system. This summer, as one example, Zurmo released a beta version of open source CRM based on gamification.

Now this trend is filtering down to mobile CRM apps.

Not Just Playing Games

While gamification might evoke visions of teenaged gamers whiling away the hours in a basement room, this is, in fact, a serious trend for serious companies, Chris Lynch, director of product marketing for Badgeville, told CRM Buyer. For example, Deloitte is one company that has leveraged gamification for mobile.

"With its 182,000 consultants worldwide, Deloitte wanted to move their employees out of email and share knowledge more openly in their social intranet powered by Yammer," said Lynch, "but since some employees were resistant to share their activities initially, they needed a way to encourage people sharing their activities more openly."

So Deloitte developed the Who-What-Where moble app, leveraging Game Mechanics from Badgeville, Lynch explained. The Who-What-Where app asks questions such as "Who are you meeting with?" and "What did you discuss?" and "Where did it take place?"

"As employees share this information," Lynch said, "they're given rewards that map to their particular area of expertise."

Motivation, Incentivizing

The most popular way to use gamification, though, is with sales staff -- that employee group that is stereotypically most resistant to using CRM in the first place.

Software company eMee offers a gamification suite for enterprises, providing interesting applications for motivating and incentivizing the mobile sales force, explained Siddhesh Bhobe, associate vice president at Persistent Systems.

"eMee's gamification mechanics and leaderboards motivate sales representatives by rewarding points and badges for closing deals, and also rewards them for updating information in the CRM database -- an activity that is normally associated with drudgery and frequently ignored or procrastinated," he told CRM Buyer.

Sales team members are rewarded points not just for winning opportunities, but for activities like adding contact information and adding meeting details, Bhobe said. "Leaderboards provide excellent visibility to the sales force, and help incentivize them to take actions in line with desirable behavior."

Such gamified applications are configured to encourage adoption -- not to fool employees into thinking they are having fun, Barry Givens, director of product management for CRM at Avanade, told CRM Buyer.

"Gamification techniques are valuable tools for measuring employee activities and providing feedback to them on their performance," he said, adding that they are "best leveraged with a rewards system in place that ties back to goals and performance management."

One Way or Another

Not surprisingly, this trend has caught the attention of Gartner, which predicts that more than 70 percent of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application by 2014.

The degree to which these application are gamified, though, will vary from company to company.

Neolane's Events App includes gamification in the sense that there is an "In-Booth Interactive Experience" that uses innovative augmented reality technology, explained Mathieu Hannouz, senior product marketing manager at Neolane.

"Users can learn more about Neolane by scanning different graphics on the booth," he told CRM Buyer. "For instance, product icons trigger demo videos, while customer logos trigger case studies."

The app fundamentally is a serious one, though, allowing attendees at Neolane events to view session details, build a customized agenda, and register to receive push notification reminders. The In-Booth feature, is "capturing leads while having fun," Hannouz said, which, ultimately is the point.


Erika Morphy has been writing about technology, finance and business issues for more than 20 years. She lives in Silver Spring, Md.


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