How games are helping tech companies manage big data

More technology companies are using games to help foster innovation and improve their bottom lines.

This process, known as gamification, creates friendly competitions and offers rewards to employees who accomplish certain tasks either individually or as part of a group. Many businesses have adopted the practice, and now tech companies are using it to encourage employee engagement and innovation with big data.

To successfully apply game mechanics, businesses need the right mix of clearly defined goals, technology and employee incentives.

“Employees who try to improve their performance will play more games and ultimately will receive corresponding rewards,” explains Brooks Mitchell, CEO at performance management company Snowfly and professor emeritus at the University of Wyoming.

Figure out goals

Businesses must first decide what they want to accomplish, Mitchell says. These goals could include improving ways to manage technology, reducing costs and boosting revenue and profit.

At LegalAdvice.com — an online community that connects legal professionals with advice seekers — gamification has helped employees and business partners become more familiar with internal tools and systems.

“Gamification fosters the improvement of user skills while enabling greater data accumulation for further analysis and innovation,” says David Reischer, chief operating officer at LegalAdvice.com.

Still, organizations frequently struggle with how to use gamification.

“There is still a perception that workforce games require lots of time and will distract people from work,” Mitchell says.

But that view is actually the opposite of gamification’s purpose, which is to drive meaningful business results.

AppOrchid, a technology company that creates data-driven enterprise apps, has used gamification to create complex technology processes for its clients.

Simulation games

“We use gamification to simulate renewable energy and its impact on the grid over the next 30 years,” explains Krishna Kumar, CEO at AppOrchid. “Using cognitive computing technologies and a powerful, gamified user-interface, AppOrchid apps perform big-data predictive analysis to assess viability and reliability of energy assets.”

Both AppOrchid and LegalAdvice.com rely on systems and processes to drive business results through gamification. One tool that both organizations rely upon is called a “leaderboard” — a ranking of users, possibilities and outcomes based on a scoring method.

“A leaderboard serves to broadcast performance results,” says Reischer. “This incentivizes competition between peers — or scenarios — by encouraging natural tendencies and desires to win.”

In the case of AppOrchid, gamification is a technological process that is supported by big data algorithms. In the case of LegalAdvice.com, gamification supports innovation through people processes. Both examples are heavily dependent on structured systems.

Prioritizing data

Gamification is, at its heart, a learning experience for organizations and their employees. That’s why it’s crucial for businesses to develop systems for harnessing big data. This mindset has been a core part of LegalAdvice.com’s strategy.

Reischer and his team prioritize storytelling as part of LegalAdvice.com’s data analysis process.

“In order to get the most value out of gamification it is important to go beyond the data and try to understand not only how the users are behaving but also to ask ‘why,’ and then also come up with creative ideas to improve the system as a whole,” Reischer says.

Organizations can reinvest newly derived insights into core operating processes. Gamification inspires team motivation and collaboration to bring organizations closer together.

“Gamification is a valuable tool for innovation because it fosters a spirit of competition that is innate within the human spirit,” says Reischer.

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