Oktoberfest Aftertaste – A Brief Summary Of the State Of The Industry

Last week, we hosted a couple of customers old and new at our own gamification conference in Munich during the Oktoberfest. The event was a great success, as measured by a word of mouth poll performed in the closing hours of the Tent Session.

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The team came up with a nice combination of topics including gamification SoLoMo, gamified user profile design, several case studies and two of my own presentations. I started out the event with a nice summary of the current happenings in the gamification space.

After the event I looked back at the deck on the state of the industry and decided that current gamification trends deserve their own post on the blog. The read might be a bit obvious to the advanced reader although even then it provides a good organization of directions as they become clear in the current information overload.

1. Of the shelf engines – There are many vendors now that offer standardized feature gamification products. This is a good thing because it is driving the cost of doing business down (because sales is simplified). It also gives a clearer picture in each project what directions are possible. It is better known than ever before what works and what doesn’t.

2. Loyalty out of the box – Out and about, a couple of startups came up with a completely disruptive model of dealing with customer loyalty and engagement which are changing the existing business space dramatically. PunchTab, for one, is an example of technology that allows small business to compete with large scale loyalty programs with an interesting enough offer for it to be viable in the eye of the consumer. Now, large loyalty programs should be beginning to worry about their position because a robust loyalty scheme is a) slowly becoming outdated and b) easily matched in offer by a local provider of the same product or service. The end effect of this disruption will need to be a much more locally contextualized view of the loyalty program member and a local component that includes a geographically contextualized offering at the least.

3. Mobile – Since every day more of the Internet is consumed from mobile devices, the geographical context of existing offers also becomes increasingly important and offers need to focus around the mobile device experience (push it to the consumer, just like any other smartphone notification, in real time).

4. Event-driven marketing – All information that the consumer is willing to provide, that can be used to personalized their offer, should be used, in real time. Walk into a store, receive offer for that store. Walk into the store during holiday season, that offer better include the holiday season component. A simple example, already implemented by some, will become ever more important because the days that the consumer could be drowned in advertising spend and be convinced to buy on that basis are slowly coming to an end. The consumer now requires interactive marketing, one that responds to their every action. Event-driven.

For those thinking about gamification and engagement in a business-2-employee setting, all of these thoughts apply. I’ll leave you to think about how :).

Zofia Wozniak, Thanks for the photos.

The Industry and Me

I just came back from the industry event Loyalty World. I have a couple of thoughts to ponder on, such as how to fit a distressed inventory discount mechanism into any setting other than a hotel operation.

In this lighting a Blackberry did a better job in untrained hands than a Samsung with a seemingly better camera.

The memory that will linger was a presentation delivered by Harper Reed, the CTO of Obama for America. Great guy, great speaker. A bit extravagant, but obviously that has not stopped him from accomplishing a couple of feisty tricks. I liked his thought on big data that I posted on Twitter the other day. I thought I’d quote him more elaborately to explain a good point.

Big Data is Bullshit. It’s just Data. Big Data was the term used back in the days where storing large amounts of data required sophisticated infrastructure technology with specialty hardware delivered only by the likes of Oracle. Now it’s simple. Anyone can do it (including our gamification analytics team, you’d be surprised what a little Twitter Bootstrap, some PHP, Hadoop and Rackspace can do :). There is nothing special about the data any more, other than what insights can be drawn from it. Cheers, Harper.

I delivered my own speech at the event. I talked about network effects in gamified loyalty engagement. Wow, was that a bad idea. First of all I had to give a theoretical intro to network effects, then define engagement according to my working definition, and finally pull it all together through an example. In 20 minutes. I ended up doing a disco presentation of over 50 slides in 15 minutes in a rather monotonous voice :|. Like any human, I enjoy putting blame on someone else, so I will say that the particularly poor ambiance of the presentation area killed all of my enthusiasm. Truth to be told it did seem a bit like presenting on the bus – the presentation area was basically sitting on a balcony overlooking the exhibition floor. Overall they said my presentation wasn’t bad (at least my deck was mostly pictures and I was Twitter-modest on text when I used it), but I’ll try to come up with a better method to sell my idea next time.

It wouldn’t be a conference without meeting up with customers old and new, a special shout-out to our friends at JetBlue. We rocked the Islington Fish’n’Chips scene throughout the event.

The trip gave me the time I needed to finish writing about the user profile. I want to brush up that post before it goes up sometime next week.

Europe’s Customer Festival

Next week I will be attending Loyalty World 2013 in London where I will be giving a presentation on network effects of gamified loyalty. In the spirit of good gamification practice, we have prepared an engagement experience for conference attendees.

European Customer Festival

The gamification scenario for this app is relatively simple: register for the event, collect achievements for participation actions throughout the conference and receive a tangible reward at the end for a high enough leaderboard position.

Beside the fact that the team was quite enthusiastic about the artistic direction of the graphics ;) they also used the upcoming public beta of our gamification API that will allow anyone to use our technology to implement a gamification scenario through a fully programatic network software interface.

This is significant, I believe that Gartner is right that the gamification scenarios of today will fail. But their failure will provide great opportunity to improve and release a truly successful engagement program that will evolve and grow. By using a fully programatic API, the engagement program admin has full control over automated changes to the game mechanism “on the fly”.

Stay tuned.

Events in Motion

I’ve been traveling quite a bit in August. In consequence, I am relocating to Williamsburg in October to grow our business in the US. Considering that I used to live in rural Bavaria for the last 2 years, this might come with a bit of a shock. See picture attached.

before and after

My family is thrilled.

In the mean time I took quite a few plane trips, some of them delayed enough to give me time to gather my thoughts (thanks, but no thanks, Delta). No epiphanies, just a recollection of what has happened and what should be explained in more detail. A roadmap for the blog, so to speak.

During my most recent trip to the US I test drove the VW SmileDrive app. I will definitely be posting about the importance of user profiles and the user journey in engagement. And design priorities. I touched on the subject before, but it looks like there is still room to elaborate and explain several basic concepts required of good design. Some of these user profile thoughts stem from a recent patent application process.

Another post that has followed from that train of thought, believe it or not is a brief treatment of disruption vs incremental change. Each engagement and gamification project brings change. The magnitude of this change can be measured by looking at the engagement target KPIs after the project goes live. An explanation of the trade-off between the impact of the project expressed in terms of the targeted engagement KPIs and the change in the underlying business process is in order.

I still need to wrap up some math on the Leaderboard series of posts, so watch out for that too.

I will be traveling in September to Italy (to enjoy some disconnect from the current workload), London (Customer Festival 2013 where I will be giving a presentation on gamification in loyalty), and Munich (we’re hosting Gamification Octoberfest there, that should be plenty fun) again, and as always, finding time to post continues to be a struggle :).

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