Gamification is “Best of Show” at IBM Connect with Kudos Badges win



IBM Connect is the annual IBM customer conference that evolved from Lotusphere into a broader focus on IBM’s collaboration portfolio and Social Business unit. At IBM Connect 2013 a gamification vendor, Kudos Badges, took the “Best of Show / Chief Technology Officer” partner award. While an acknowledgment of Kudos Badges’ products and business value delivered, this award was also an important milestone for the emerging gamification market. Kudos Badges was competing against a variety of vendors and technologies, including many that have more broadly and easily understood value propositions. Kudos Badges overcame this hurdle by demonstrating hard numbers for customer business value in addition to its innovative technology.

“Best of Show” concentrated on business value delivered

The judges – of which this analyst was one – used a number of criteria in evaluating the vendors. The criteria were loosely grouped as customer business value, technology innovation, and marketing. The most important was business value. For Kudos Badges, a subsidiary of ISW, the business value demonstrated addressed a major problem for organizations: how to get users to fully adopt the functionality of deployed software.

Too often enterprises and public sector organizations do not achieve the anticipated return on investment of a technology investment simply because the products are not utilized by all expected employees, the relevant functionality is not fully exploited, or the products are used incorrectly. IBM (like most vendors) has these problems with IBM Connections and related collaboration applications. Kudos Badges helps solve this core problem by providing a flexible platform using social, reputation, and game mechanics to guide and encourage users of IBM Connections. For example, improvements in completing personal profiles – often a critical step for internal social networks – increased by 40% at one customer, 67% in a second, and 40% in a third. Another example is blogging, with a 40% increase in the number of created blogs and 130% increase in blog posts at one customer and a 177% increase in blog usage at a second customer. For IBM and its customers, improving adoption at these percentages is often the key to achieving usage momentum that leads to project success. In addition, Kudos Badges can be used to promote and measure the use of specific functions.

These metrics are important for fine-tuning the gamified elements in order to achieve the desired behavioral changes. For example, Kudos Badges can be set up to give points not just for number of blog posts – which is not always the desired result – but for quality, as measured by the number of comments on a post or how often it is “Liked”.

Gamification’s visibility at IBM Connect shows growing credibility

Aside from Kudos Badges, gamification was well represented at IBM Connect. There were other vendors in the expo that were either pure-play gamification tool providers or used gamified elements in their products. Furthermore, there were a number of sessions on the conference agenda discussing gamification. For example, Jane McGonigal, author of “Reality Is Broken”, led a keynote session with some statistics about gamification; these included the fact that 71% of US workers are not engaged and that unengaged workers cost US companies $300bn in lost productivity and revenues. The presence of gamification at IBM Connect illustrates that the benefits are being more widely realized and understood, and that it is moving away from being of interest solely to innovators and early adopters to a broader audience.

Recommendations for enterprises and vendors

Enterprises and public sector organizations who are having difficulty achieving anticipated return on investment for software projects should check to see if under-utilization and/or incorrect usage are core contributors. If that is the case then these organizations should evaluate the applicability of Kudos Badges as a tool to help drive adoption and correct utilization. While Kudos Badges’ emphasis and examples at IBM Connect were naturally focused on IBM products, it does work with non-IBM software.

Software vendors should evaluate partnering with Kudos Badges if they are experiencing customer problems related to user adoption of their products. By making it easier to deploy Kudos Badges with their applications, vendors can equip their customers with tools for driving early adoption of the applications.



Carter Lusher, Research Fellow and Chief Analyst: Enterprise Applications Ecosystem

Further reading

Gamifying the Service Desk, IT017-003996 (July 2012)

2013 Trends to Watch: IT Service Management, IT017-004009 (September 2012)

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