Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Game of Digital Analytics: Gamification of the Metrics

The Game of Digital Analysis:
Gamification of the Metrics

What is Gamification?
            It is simply absorbing the fun elements in a game (what we call Game Mechanics or Game Techniques) into real-world applications.[1]  It is simply taking the fun and often addicting features of video games and applying those same features to real-world, non-game situations and applications.  The last decade saw a huge surge in the gaming industry, surpassing the music and movie industry, to become the leading form of entertainment globally.[2]
Gamification of Analytics
            In a way, business and digital analysts already have a built-in game feature when it comes to analyzing the metrics and creating actionable items off of those analyses.  Imagine for a moment that the metrics are points within a game, which is one of the five most commonly used game mechanics[3].  The object, just like in a video game, is to get the highest score possible.  For the analyst, this comes in the form of higher site traffic, or higher customer conversion.       

When an analyst pours over the metrics, identifies an area of improvement, and then implements changes to improve the business, they have the benefit of running the numbers again after the improvements to determine whether or not a new “high score” was achieved.  This desire to observe, strategize and implement new methods is a pattern found in both analysts and “gamers”.

            Moreover, there are other commonalities which show correlation between analysis and gaming.  Multiple tools exist to show comparisons between different companies success or site traffic, providing the analysts with something akin to a leaderboard, which is another one of the commonly used game mechanics.  This gives the analyst, not only the ability to see how their actions improve their business, but how their changes stack up against the competition as well.
            But why stop there?  The next step might possibly be to make the analytics tools themselves, such as Adobe SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics, function more like video games.  What if a failing metric took on the characteristics, and perhaps even the avatar, of a video game “mini-boss” and it was up to the analyst to determine the correct course of action to defeat that adversary?  Another option might be to construct the analytics tool in such a way as to create “levels” of success so that as the analyst improves the metrics through analysis and implementation, new levels are achieved via increased revenue or decreased cost.

Whatever the future of the analytics tools, it is clear that at least in some small way, analysts just might be gamers at heart.  Why not indulge that passion and turbo charge the fun factor of the analytics industry?

Driving Success through Gamification           
As a final note, there have been many studies and trends showing that the gamification of websites and apps drives engagement with products and services and creates a stronger, deeper connection to the customer.  One such example is this post on Social Media Today[4].  While the world of digital analytics evolves and companies benefit more and more from these “gamer” analysts, perhaps the analysts should also try to incorporate gamification into their repertoire of actionable items.