Gamification can benefit the IT service desk in many ways

Adam Holtby, Research Analyst

Enterprise gamification continues to garner a lot of attention, and the increased understanding of how the practice and its supporting technologies can and are delivering real organizational benefits is encouraging.

In the context of IT service management, the IT service desk is often identified as a function that can benefit from the use of gamification, and new technological capabilities are being introduced by leading ITSM vendors that can help service desks realize new efficiencies in delivering against business objectives. The success of any gamification initiative, however, will rely on more than just technology.

The gamified IT service desk is a reality

Gamification is not about turning work into a game, but is instead about offering a new means by which employees can be better engaged through performance quantification, rapid feedback loops, and a sense of progression. When used effectively, game mechanics can be a valuable tool for building status and reputation systems that improve employee motivation and performance.

The IT service desk is a function that can benefit in a number of ways from embracing gamification. Often described as the window into IT, the service desk is an IT function in a unique position to identify service improvement and innovation opportunities as a result of its constant touch-points with the wider business.

Building a service desk that not only delivers an exceptional customer experience while also identifying and acting on potential improvement opportunities is a valuable asset not only to the IT department, but also the entire organization. Service desk analysts are one of the IT department’s most valuable assets, and with the help of gamification their efforts can be better recognized and quantified, and the experience of delivering and supporting IT services can be made more engaging.

Looking forward, Ovum believes that over the next 18 months further ITSM technology user interface evolutions will arise that will improve user experiences, and for many the use of game-mechanics will be a key component.

Gamification can benefit the IT service desk in many ways

Gamification is not simply about points, badges, and leaderboards. Successful initiatives will require organizations to focus on how the practice and its supporting technologies can be used to quantify the efforts of people as well as to consider the behavioral impact that this reinforcement may have on individuals.

When developed correctly, a gamification initiative can be beneficial to both service providers and the customers they support. The ways in which gamification can be used include reputation and status mechanisms, progression mechanics that are tied to incentives, and game mechanics tied to learning.

When culturally accepted and developed correctly, reputation and status mechanisms that integrate with enterprise social network platforms can develop into being viewed as important career milestones, as demonstrated in Ovum’s recent SAP Community Network case study.

Progression mechanics that are tied to incentives will both encourage behavioral change and provide management teams with meaningful data from which they can draw intelligent insight. In addition, game mechanics tied to learning will encourage users to discover more about how an adopted solution, process, or practice may be able to help them overcome common challenges.

Feedback for the win

Gamification is a valuable means of delivering meaningful, relative, and regular performance-related feedback. The delivery of this feedback to employees has long been a challenge, and has traditionally been delivered infrequently at annual or bi-annual reviews. Shortening these feedback loops can help in more effectively guiding behaviors that are beneficial to both individuals and organizations.

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