11:38 AM

Gamification and Content? Yes, really....

Let me start off by saying: I'm not a gamer. Never was. No shocker that my first reaction to the term 'Gamification' was less than favorable and I wasn't going to waste a moment of my time on such nonsense.

Three minutes later, I've opened a dozen browser tabs with various search results for Gamification, Gamify, Game Layer, Game Dynamics, Game Mechanics, there's no shortage of related terms. Having dabbled in the MMO and MMORPG industry (business planning, not playing), I was definitely intrigued...but not convinced about its use for non (video) gaming applications. Then I found these two videos:
1. Seth Priebatsch's TEDxBoston talk (July 2010), The Game Layer On Top Of The World. 
Seth talks about the "game layer" being constructed on top of the existing social infrastructure (which Priebatsch notes is already established and is called Facebook). At the root of it: gamification has the potential to motivate and drive behavior towards specific actions and outcomes.

2. Jesse Schell's infamous DICE 2010 Design Outside the Box presentation. 
Perhaps you're one of the million people who already viewed the video, Jesse has an entertaining and quirky way of presenting the 'unexpected' and the possibilities. He presents how game mechanics and dynamics could - and will - soon apply to our everyday lives.

Gamification 101
Gamification is the use of game design, game dynamics, and game mechanics in non-gaming applications. In other words, it's NOT about playing video games at work and having a game controller instead of a keyboard. 

Summarizing the two key terms defined by Michael Wu, Ph.D Lithium's Principal Scientist of Analytics, on the Lithium blog:

"At the most fundamental level, gamification is the use of game mechanics to drive game-like engagement and actions....in everyday life, we are often presented with activities we hate, whether it is boring chores or stressful works. Gamification is the process of introducing game mechanics into these abhorred activities to make them more game-like (i.e. fun, rewarding, desirable, etc.), so that people would want to proactively take part in these tasks."

Wu continues about game mechanics. "They are principles, rules, and/or mechanisms that govern a behavior through a system of incentives, feedback, and rewards with reasonably predictable outcome. Some of them are so predictable that they can almost be seen as a kind of behavioral or psychological reflex, much like the patellar reflex of your knee when tapped by a physician."

What does this mean for Work?
Sky's the limit! While gamification is only in its infancy, given the rapid adoption of consumer-based applications, like social networking and communities, into the work environment (given a fancy industry term called 'Consumerization of IT'), it will ramp up quickly. While more prevalent in B2C markets, the opportunity to increase participation in learning, education, loyalty programs and product innovation and testing is ubiquitous.

Where is this going in 2011?
Gabe Zichermann, author of Game-Based Marketing (2010) and industry pioneer, writes about the 5 Predictions for Game Mechanics in 2011. Notably, this presents a big opportunity for the consumer space, he calls out the 'big brands' to drive customer engagement, brand loyalty and brand awareness.

R Ray Wang writes how Gamification Will Drive Future Enterprise Software User Experiences in Trends: 5 Engagement Factors For Gamification And The Enterprise which outlines how the enterprise can apply game mechanics and dynamics to improve engagement and participation within the business and also with partners, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.

What's this got to do with Content?
  • Social was about connecting, collaborating and engaging with others. We saw Content become increasingly (now exponentially) user-generated. Gamification is about participation, motivating behavior and rewards. Content will be much more pervasively co-created as well as user-generated.
  • Digital content is the current standard; gamification requires mobile access, delivery and publishing for all content, content/social/gaming objects and their associated interactions and processing.
  • Content marketing was the new black in 2010 and will evolve to becoming interactive and immersive (gamified) in 2011.
  • Content strategy and strategists will be essential element for planning and execution.

Gamification is a new opportunity for innovation, monetization and productivity.There are already some well documented successes:

How companies adopt and deploy 'gamification' is yet to be seen. I recently published an article via CMS Wire that looks at the potential to improve sales enablement and productivity through gamification. While many have doubts about the validity and value in the non-gaming world, the industry research and support suggests that it's not a passing fad:

I'm sure we'll see a few business-related early adopter / experimental applications in 2011. From my perspective, a lens that combines enterprise software, mobility and MMORPG  experience, I see several immediate opportunities:
  • Product Testing: as noted above about the success Microsoft has experienced
  • Sales Productivity: there's no better captive audience to deploy an incentive-based, reward-driven, status granting gamified application. We joke that sales is coin operated; what if we gave them lots of virtual coins for giving feedback, co-creating content and  participating with communities? As noted above, I detail some examples via CMS Wire.
  • User Adoption: gamify learning systems and work process. Whether it's onboarding, product training or domain/subject/application specific learning - make the experience tolerable and potentially fun. The more end users who know how to use a system, application or process - this will increase productivity and even may lower the TCO of enterprise software purchases and implementations.
What's your perspective on this concept? Any examples of failed or fantastic case studies? Feel free to write your POV or link to other resources on this topic.

7:11 AM

User-Generated Content: The Game-Changer towards Enterprise 3.0

How have your behavior, actions - even beliefs, changed over the last year or two? I'm willing to bet your behavior and actions on making a purchase have changed and I'll go out on a limb to say that it's because of User-Generated content.
Sidebar: "User" generated content...really? Why is it that only drug dealers and techies call their consumers "users"? I've seen some references to "consumer' generated content... well, I'd say that users are consumers (by any definition, not just techies and drug dealers). My point is that in this social, collaborative and connected world, we use a term that de-humanizes content created by people when we call it 'user' ... I digress....

The world is a mash-up. And User Generated Content is at the heart of it. The impact of UGC on the B2C world - and increasingly B2B world is significant. You can read more about my POV on UGC and how it impacts the business world in the March edition of KM World Magazine at UGC KM World Magazine

What is more interesting is the 'mash-up'. UGC is the collision of the business and consumer world - no matter if you're a B2C, B2B or government organization. It's the new reality. Are you ready for it?

1. People talk. The fancy new term for it is, "Word of Mouth". Whether you're a vet, a grocery store, restaurant or major brand - people are now empowered to share their experience, their POV, their recommendation - whether you like it or not. Unfortunately, the more they DON'T like it, the more likely they are to tell others about it. AKA: Misery loves company. The personal and consumer world has infiltrated the business/corporate/government operating environment - what's your plan to embrace it and use it as a source for change/improvement?

2. People talk ALL THE TIME - and increasingly (thanks to the social infrastructure) to people whom they've never met before. We're tweeting and status updating and LinkedIn'ing our opinions, interests and beliefs all the time to the masses in the Cloud. 
The business world needs to accept that when people have something to say - ready or not - there it is: tweeted, retweeted, Facebook status update, etc. It's for all to see. The sad irony is that when we we've had a great experience, we relish in our contentment and have a great day. When it goes sideways: we're on our iPhone, Blackberry or other device to tweet about it before the situation/incident has even concluded. In many instances, the world could be notified of it before you are - and before having the opportunity to correct it.

3. People have influence and impact on your business, brand: The champion of mind-controlling tapeworms (a great profile I came across on Twitter) could be as influential as CNN. We're all publishers and media outlets! This could mean that the person from high school who you can only recollect as being the recipient of wedgies, is now the person with significant influence over your brand.. .subsequently your company's brand equity... subsequently, the company's EPS. No joke, if you aren't paying attention to or embracing UGC, it could be too late when you do. You may think wedgie-tapeworming guy doesn't matter, but the reality is that you should care that much more!

Bottom line: hellooooo brand new world. The Madmen of the 60's no longer dictate. This is not a command and control Marketing 1.0 world. The upside of Marketing 2.0 (enter UGC): the inmates ARE running the asylum and calling out the perpetrators of bad business, bad practices, bad... well... just being bad. If that's not you - or your business - then you have nothing to worry about. Even then, drop your guard for good service, good business, good practice - let's just hope that Guy K or someone else who's listed 24,000 times on Twitter doesn't hear about it first.

We're evolving from the Enterprise/Web 2.0 world of Engagement to the new 3.0 world of Participation. Consumers are engaged and now participating far more frequently on Twitter, LinkedIn, Blog sites, Online communities, etc. And there are millions of them out there. It's an exciting time when your words - your voice - matter and have impact.  For the business and government world - I hope you're listening.

7:34 AM

To Tweet or Not To Tweet - If Shakespeare Were Alive Today

Just for fun - if Shakespeare were alive today.
Forgive the iambic pentameter transgressions; I did try to stay true to original. Enjoy.

To Tweet, or not to Tweet.

That is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of Twitter/Tweet fortune,
Or take arms against the sea of Facebook’rs
And by unfriending end them? To blog: to tweet:
No more; and by a tweet to say we end
The heartache and the thousand retweet forwards
That Tweetdeck propogates; ‘tis a consummation
Devoutly to blog each week;  To blog, to Tweet;
To Tweet; perchance Slideshare: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that Slide of Shares what Tweets may come
When we have Slideshare’d, this Twitter coil,
Must give us pause; there’s Tweetmeme
That makes calamity of so many Tweets;
For who would read the blogs and tweets of time
The Facebook status, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of ‘Is Single’,  status updates,
The embarrassment of social break-ups,
That Single status of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With no Zuckerberg? Who would  ZB bear,
To grunt and sweat under a billion life (worth),
But that he dread of Social after death,
The undiscover’d blog draft from whose bourn
No followers, retweets;  puzzle the will
And makes us rather bear those Tweets we have
Than blog to others that we know not of?
Thus Social Networks make cowards of us all;
And thus the Facebook hue of networking
Is socializing with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great brand and earnings
With this regard their websites turn awry, and fail to engage with social. – Soft you now!
The fair Tweet, Facebook, Blog, in thy social cloud,
Be all my sins remember’d

10:15 PM

Using Collaboration, Rich Media and the Social Infrastructure to Save my pet Sugar Glider

It’s been over a month since I got home from a family Christmas in British Columbia. Within minutes of being here, I knew something was terribly wrong: my little man Mars, a Sugar Glider, was critically sick and needed emergency care.

While his fate is still uncertain, his care and recovery up to this point can be credited to the power of user-generated content and the social infrastructure that supports it.  Oh yeah – and a super fantastic vet, Dr. Mitelman at Kingston Animal Hospital in Toronto.

Meet Mars.

Nine years ago, I faced a similar situation when my first sugar glider became ill. At that time, there was no YouTube, Facebook, Yelp (or even the concept of Word-of-Mouth) nor such prevalent use of Rich media like videos or pictures - Flickr.com did not exist. Despite the medical care, this little sugar glider died in my hands within a few days.

Today, the wealth of online resources, networks, and user-generated content combined with using rich media (photos and videos) may just save Mars. Here’s how:

1.  ‘Word of Mouth” helped me find the right vet.

Like any parent with a sick child, you don’t want just any doctor.  Despite my very limited options – it was New Year’s eve day and we’re not dealing with a ‘normal’ kind of pet, I wanted credentials and feedback on Kingston Road Animal hospital – all of which I found on Yelp.com.  The comments from pet owners, the Word of Mouth content, validated that it was the right place to go.

2.  The social infrastructure located other Sugar Glider experts.

Mars needed emergency surgery and until the test results came back, the course of action was uncertain. He had a gaping hole in his chest – the size of a quarter – and it was deep enough that I wasn’t sure if I was looking at his ribs or spine.

Unsure of what caused this, Dr. Mitelman and I would have to wait – and given the holiday weekend, it could take longer than expected. Things were not looking good for Mars.

Undeterred, both Dr. Mitelman and I reached out through the social infrastructure to find answers and the recommendations of other Sugar glider experts. Dr. Mitelman reached out through VIN.com, a veterinarian specific hub where he could collaborate amongst the 42,000 worldwide members.

I found a Sugar Glider-specific vet site, reached out (despite not being a vet) and within minutes received a reply and great support from Val Betts, the owner and President of Sugarglidervetinfo.com. She recommended an ‘e-collar’ for Mars and pointed me to a website where I could download the directions to make one. I also found an instructional video on YouTube which was incredibly helpful.

3. the social infrastructure enabled me to share pictures and video for monitoring his recovery.

It’s January in Toronto, Canada. There’s snow. And at times, a whole lot of it. During these times of arctic-like conditions, driving is not advisable, or even a possibility. But sharing videos and pictures via YouTube and Flickr is.

Using a FlipShare camera (best purchase ever), I could film Mars, edit the footage in minutes and then directly upload to YouTube. Likewise, taking photos didn’t require National Geographic-like finesse or equipment – my Blackberry was just fine.  I could share the media with Dr. Mitelman and also with Val, who is located in Texas,

It hasn’t been easy to provide the care he needs and monitor him around the clock. He needs food, water, medicine, wound cleaning, bathing (often a combination thereof) every few hours. [I’ll spare you the details on the 2am glider enemas] . Having the support found online and the over-the-top attention from Kingston Road Animal Hospital (they call regularly to check up on him), has provided support, expertise and ongoing treatment that wasn’t possible nine years ago.

This is the first time I’ve relied on social tools and technology in my personal life – in this Veterinarian 2.0 experience. We’re not sure of the outcome yet (fingers crossed),  but social and UGC could very well be the reason why my little man Mars survives.


Social and User Generated Content mentioned and used:

A big shout-out to Dr.Mitelman and the staff at Kingston Road Animal Hospital.
By far the most compassionate, attentive and committed vet and staff I've ever experienced. I don't know too many doctors who will call in a prescription at 11pm at night for a human, let alone a pet!

What the heck is a sugar glider?
No – it’s not a rat, or even related to the rodent family. They are marsupials.
Yes, like a Kangaroo or Possum
Yes, females have pouches and give birth to Joeys.
Yes, they have a lifespan much longer than hamster - they can live up to 12-15 years.
No, they don’t go to the bathroom on me.
No, they don’t ‘fly’, they glide, hence the name Sugar ‘Glider’

I’ve had pet Sugar Gliders for over 15 years and it has certainly been the topic of interest, ridicule and amazement – bottom line, I adore these little creatures.