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9 minutes read

Gamification in Enterprise Apps: A Boost to Engagement

By Robert Kazmi
An illustration of a user, a laptop, and game icons.
By Robert Kazmi
9 minutes read

A gamification app strategy can lead to greater engagement. With gamification, for example, a to-do list app isn’t just a digital list. It becomes an engaging gamified list.

In case you don’t know, “engagement” is a keyword when it comes to creating and releasing successful apps. Engagement applies to all sorts of apps, from a fitness app to a productivity app. In other words, engagement is something that any app developer should consider when building web or mobile apps. 

In this post, we discuss why your enterprise needs a gamification app, even if you are not in the gaming industry. 

Gamification Apps and Engagement

Picture this scenario. You put a lot of work and creative thought into building an enterprise app. You follow best practices of UX design and accessibility, and you put a lot of effort into ensuring you’ve created something that addresses a specific need. Finally, you optimize your app features so that it delivers a lot of value to your users. 

However, after all this work, it might be the case that things don’t go as you expected. App development plans sometimes do not actually reflect how real-life users interact with your app. 

If all of the above conditions are true and user numbers still aren’t taking off as you’d like them to, or you’re having trouble keeping users using your app once you have them, perhaps something needs to change about how your users interact with your app. More likely than not, your app needs to include game elements to make it more engaging.

The practice of using game elements to motivate users is known as gamification, a concept that is strongly related to engagement. Gamification is something you’ve probably heard more and more in the last few years, but it’s been slow to be adopted by enterprise apps. Keep on reading to find out why you should consider it.

Why Gamification?

Gamified apps, commonly referred to as gamification apps, have the power to engage your users in ways that a regular app cannot. Sometimes, the right UX requires thinking in terms of a gamification app. 

Gamelike components embedded into an app have the potential to make your app more appealing to users. This can be explained due to the psychological effects that games have on the human brain. For a user, it is more attractive to use an app that is fun versus one that isn’t. This principle is one that the best gamification apps understand and exploit.

The Slow Uptake of Gamification Apps for Enterprises

Gamification apps can help your enterprise app become more engaging, and yet, they seem to have a low adoption rate as a realistic solution for enterprises. Perhaps this slow uptake of gamification apps among enterprises has to do with perception. Many people still look at gamification apps as something more in line with casual gamers rather than the professional environment of the enterprise.

This means that if you’re going to suggest gamification apps be included in your enterprise strategy and you’re required to convince others, you need to be prepared with some research. How do you explain that game mechanics should be applied to a professional, business context? What are some of the best gamification apps you can think of? You don’t want stakeholders to think you’re talking about child’s play.

If you’re the one pitching about the impact of gamification apps to stakeholders, perhaps emphasize the engagement and motivation pieces over the “game” word. After all, gamification apps take into account human nature and apply game mechanics to the regular activities which an app might feature.

Humans have an inherent pull toward gameplay that goes back to childhood. Give someone a challenge of some sort where they might be able to earn rewards, recognition, or a sense of competition and these can be strong motivators.

Nonetheless, be realistic. Researchers from Wharton point out that research into real-life gamification is still young. It would be taking it a bit far to claim that gamification apps “work” as a general statement, but they have been shown to be effective under the right environments and appropriate conditions, such as applying it where it will be of genuine interest to the user. This might be the case with your enterprise.

Know the End-User

The identity of the end-user of your app is a very important factor as to whether or not your gamification strategy will work in real life. Who is really the target of the app? What are their preferences and motivations? These are questions that the best gamification apps take into account. 

With enterprise apps, a lot of the time if you’re pitching them. You’re not actually pitching to the end-user, but to someone further up the chain who has decision-making authority when it comes to purchasing the tools for the business.

How will you make a case for your gamified app? You’ve got to understand who they are trying to get to use it and be able to make the connections between using your app and the overall goals of the business and those for its team members. Gamified apps can only move forward if they convince the upper management levels that they work.

The personas of your typical users will matter when you’re planning the types of game mechanics your app needs. For example, do they like to win, achieve, explore or socialize? These are all foundation aspects of gamification which may hold different weights depending on the target user.

You may find it helpful to be able to categorize your user type/s such as Andrzej Marczewski does with his “Gamification User Types.” He identifies six basic user types and their motivations, as seen in his model below:


Establishing a Strategy

The gamification of an enterprise app could go in a number of different directions, so a good place to start is by doing some research and gathering data on the common behaviors of your target users. You may be able to do this via an early iteration of the app if it’s one you already have in place and are looking at gamifying. Otherwise, you’re going to need to establish a profile of your target audience and the jobs they do, and gather insights as best you can, perhaps by surveying.

An important point here is that if you’re trying to make a case for gamification in the very traditional corporate world, you’d better have some good data behind you. Stakeholders and buyers will want to know why they should justify the expense.

Gamification to Improve Productivity Management

A good way to justify the gamification of your enterprise app is to always relate it back to the key goals of the business. In particular, you can frame it in terms of how it can increase productivity. After all, gamification apps are a great tool for productivity management. This approach, known as gamified productivity, is very convenient to sell the idea of a gamified app. 

For example, if a game mechanic encourages the sales staff to make more sales, what can be done? The advice here would be to establish rewards that are built into the app directly, and that these rewards are tied directly to KPIs. The key takeaway is that people should be encouraged to do the things that matter. To do this, it is sometimes useful to think of gamification apps as productivity apps.

The other point to consider is reporting. Both users and any other interested stakeholders in the app need to be taken into account in order to monitor whether your gamification initiatives are having a positive impact. Management always wants to know about the ROI. Was the investment in a gamified app worth it? What difference has it made to results? If you are able to think in terms of a productivity app, you will most likely be able to address these concerns.

Choose Your Game Style

Based on the gamification goals the app will serve, what types of game mechanics will you choose? Here are some examples to consider:

  • Leveling up – this would appeal to achievers. For example, perhaps users level up with time using the app and tasks performed. 
  • Earning badges or rewards – again, appealing to achievers! Badges or rewards could be earned for completing tasks related to the goals of the company. For example, “you had 7 interactions today which were rated at a 5 by the customer.” 
  • Leader boards – these appeal to social or competitive people. How well are they doing compared to others? They might think 7 interactions rated at a 5 by the customer was cool, but their teammate had 9, making it a challenge to overcome. 
  • Building something – this might appeal to anyone who is motivated by purpose. For example, the Forest app encourages focus by planting a tree at the start of a time period you elect for work. If a user leaves the app to do something else, the tree will die. Users can add to their “forest” every day by maintaining focus. 
  • Visual and/or audible feedback – most users would like some kind of feedback. Game mechanics might include things like breaking the piñata (like the Swarm app), sounds of applause, or feedback indicating where something might be lacking.

Using Gamification in Your App

Will gamification be something you consider for your next enterprise app? It’s definitely something that is taking off and, if used well, can provide a good boost to your app’s engagement and results.

Engagement and motivation are really the key points when it comes to convincing enterprise stakeholders, along with a focus on achieving the goals the company needs. An app development company can help your app improve its engagement.

When it comes to implementing gamification for enterprise apps, try to think in terms of productivity management. How can you justify something which on the surface, doesn’t sound “corporate” at all, but in reality, can increase your productivity?

Know your customers’ needs and know your end-users – this will help you to create a winning, gamified productivity app for your enterprise.

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