Gamification + Data = Better Solutions

game data- theory
Gamification + Data = Better Solutions

I recently saw a great story in the WSJ on the use of data and gamification to help families learn better financial planning and overall reduce poverty. This was a great example of the real world impact of using data to influence and direct behavior. Too often we see companies and governments focus on just collecting all the data but with little thought on the active feedback loops necessary to make the data really useful. The “Anti-Poverty Experiment” goes into details of how government agencies are trying to find new carrots and sticks to solve issues instead of just blindly throwing money at the problem.

In this case the influence is to improve the financial stability of families and improve society by reducing poverty. Hopefully we see more of these types of success stories.

Let’s break down the main points of this solution and consider how gamificaiton + data can be applied more generally.

First, what is gamificaiton or game theory? Gamification is generally used as a term for building incentives into work flows and business tasks that provide an award for the user/customer/employee to complete the task. Many times people do not even realize that the overall reason for the incentive is that it benefits the entity for you to complete the task.

Common examples of game incentives offered include

  • Filling out an annual employee health survey to receive a reduction in monthly healthcare premiums
  • Getting a discount on a product or service by providing information to participate in a raffle for a chance to win some product or service
  • Getting free use or limited use of a service in exchange for providing basic contact information

In the example the goal is improve financial stability of families and also improve the effective use of tax dollars or even reduce the funds needed. In enterprise the goal is usually selling something to somebody or increasing revenue.

The offer in both cases has to outweigh the perceived cost of participation. In many cases the perceived value of participation includes three main items

  1. The time to provide what is asked (e.g. is it 10 seconds to provide an email or a 20 minute survey?).
  2. The value the participant places on what is asked (e.g. my data is worth something?).
  3. The perceived value of the offer in comparison to the perceived value of #1 + #2.

While we just also defined demand generation 101 by adding the element of game theory we change the dynamics of participation by adding a bonus that does not generally exist in standard enterprise marketing campaigns. (e.g. downloading a white paper or even winning an iPod does not equal winning something of life changing proportion like in the example) In the example the bonus was a mega-payoff (e.g. $5000 or more in a raffle) that a family following all the rules could win and in most cases this is at a level that is life impacting. What would an enterprise business provide as the offer that makes it life changing for your prospect or customer? Now that is something to consider.

The “Anti-Poverty Experiment” story is a great parallel to how many businesses approach go to market strategy by just putting more money or bodies into the channel. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not and in the end the business has no idea what happened because they are not properly measuring the impact of different incentives for their prospects, existing customers or their partners and employees. While data on it’s own is useful it is also important to look at the cause and effect of every behavior and decision process involved. Perhaps there are some game theory approaches that can be used in your go to market that will improve the end results.

* Image reposted from Shutterstock

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