How big data, motivational design and gamification come together as Loyalty 3.0

I’ve really enjoyed reading Bunchball founder Rajat Paharia’s book Loyalty 3.0: How to Revolutionize Customer and Employee Engagement with Big Data and Gamification. This is one of the best books on gamification I’ve read.

If you are planning an internal gamification initiative don’t be put off by the word Loyalty in the name, this is a great book that successfully explains the gamification opportunity both for employees and customers.

The premise behind Loyalty 3.0 is a reframing of gamification as good user centred, motivational design while leveraging our increasing big data footprints. Gamification itself is simplified to a set of 10 mechanics. Rajat’s defining equation is thus  “Motivation + Big Data + Gamification = Loyalty 3.0. “

While I find the “3.0″ a slightly hackneyed term, for me, this definition basically works. Gartner, since this book was published, has tried to redefine the word gamification as primarily for digital engagement but this has received mixed responses

In Rajat’s lexicon Gamification can still include traditional game mechanics such as Tiered Membership Levels and Scouting badges but it is the advent of Big Data (essentially the digital  input) which makes the new opportunity that he terms Loyalty 3.0.

A highlight for me was how Rajat’s 10 gamification mechanics became a checklist used for understanding how gamification was being applied in his many helpful case studies. The case studies themselves were well presented and, while there were few that were really new, the section on Adobe’s Photoshop LevelUp program is a clear explanation of how to do onboarding using gamification, one of gamification’s quick wins for any organisation.

I also found the aside on Salesforce’s early warning system a must read for any SaaS business owner – it made me realise just how far my own SaaS reporting system has to go!

I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with this book – I was particularly pleased when Rajat started to cover some of the more difficult aspects of gamification implementation (dealing with gaming of the system, misaligned incentives and cheating). A larger section would have been welcomed – there is simply too much bad gamification design about for this not to be a problem – but the fact that they were mentioned at all was a relief. Where other authors have skimmed over the pitfalls of gamification, Rajat is commendably honest in his recognition of what can go wrong.

The coverage of time arcs was new and very helpful to me, if only to give a strong gamification mechanic a good name. Time arcs are a mechanic I’ve embedded within the design of my own Leaderboarded gamification tool as a way of sustaining long term engagement – I call them weekly or monthly ‘releases’

Time arcs really do work a treat – just ask Zoopla who are now 18 months in to their lightweight gamification initiative, the Zoopla property power 100, with no sign of waning engagement, just search on #ZPP100.

Rajat’s greatest strength is the extensive real world experience of implementing gamification projects founded on scorekeeping in many different scenarios. Rajat has been working at gamification longer than most of us in the industry and this book draws out his rich experience. Spending time with the father of gamification, is like sitting in a vineyard sipping a classic vintage that has taken a few years to mature,  and the wait has made it all the more enjoyable.

Delayed gratification – now there’s a gamification mechanic worth thinking about…

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