Microsoft SharePoint: How Gamification Might Improve Adoption Rates

Badgeville Sharepoint

The article is based on the Badgeville Webinar on Sharepoint. Click here to watch the original video.

SharePoint – the Collaboration Platform

SharePoint is a Web-base application platform developed by Microsoft to provide a number of functions and capabilities to promote collaboration between company employees and organization members. Since its introduction in 2001, continuous feature development and improvement has made it a powerful and reliable resource for businesses.

Despite this, its adoption rate has be painfully slow in most cases. Many organizations find that their employees often prefer to minimize their use of the platform, or ignore it completely. In fact, a 2011 Forrester report indicates that 31% of Sharepoint companies have users that still prefer collaborating via email.

The Badgeville Webinar

Enter Badgeville to address this situation with game mechanics. With Badgeville for Sharepoint the intent is to engage users and have them adopt the different Sharepoint features in a meaningful way to promote collaboration. By integrating smart gamifying elements into the Sharepoint structure, Badgeville enables companies to influence and reward key user behavior, and improve knowledge sharing, resource management and collaboration. This in turn increases the likelihood of valuable actions and performance, providing positive results derived from the initial investment. (Wow, that sounds effective.)

In a recent Badgeville webinar (July 10, 2013), Chris Lynch, Badgeville’s Director of Product Marketing, explored ways to improve Sharepoint adoption through the use of gamification techniques. Featured in the program were Joel Olson, the Managing Director at Salient6 , a Sharepoint consulting firm, and Caroline Dangson, a key producer at Badgeville.

Chris kicked off the seminar with a quick survey, polling the listeners on what they use SharePoint for – which functions they have deployed. (Listeners were allowed to check any and all of nine possible responses.) The results indicated how diverse their use was.

The three leading functions were Site (portal, intranet) (71.5%), Collaboration (58.1%), and Content Management (57.0%). At a more modest level of deployment were the internal-facing Custom Apps (26.3%) and Social (19.0%) functions. At still more modest levels were Insight, consisting of business intelligence and analytics (8.9%), and external-facing Custom Apps (8.4%). (Some listeners responded that they have deployed an unspecified function(s) (7.8%) or none at all (17.9%).)

The Sharepoint Adoption Challenge

Joel initiated his part of the session with comments about the objectives of Salient6’s efforts to unlock business value for SharePoint, by enhancing the user interface and user experience through game mechanics. But there are challenges. Both Forrester Research and Gartner Research have reported that despite over $1B being spent annually on SharePoint, adoption has been slow. Only about 40% of the “line of business” users regularly use SharePoint, with a full 41% of all users preferring more standard tools such as email. Not surprisingly, 51% of all users don’t like the user experience.

To explore this further, Joel initiated a second quick survey of the listeners to poll them on what they felt were the main adoption challenges.

The results point out some key problem areas which have previously been identified. In February 2013, Forrester Research released the report, “SharePoint Enters Its Awkward Teenage Years”, which stated that despite great strides in development, it has been a disappointment in several areas. Specifically, in these four areas:

Adoption – lack of forethought in rolling out SharePoint to regular users

User Experience – the user experience with SharePoint has proven cumbersome and confusing

Tools – people still love the experience of familiar apps, such as email, despite the advantages of SharePoint’s integrated features and the efforts of third party developed apps, such as

Business Value – 40% of the survey respondents indicate their organizations are not seeing business value from SharePoint adoption

In the survey results, the lack of enthusiasm for the user experience clearly stands out and confirms the findings from Forrester. Also the preference for other (more familiar) tools and the lack of obvious business value for users seems to support the earlier findings. (Note that the survey results reflect the exclusive nature of the polling – listeners selected only the “Biggest Adoption Challenge”, not challenges. If the survey would have allowed listeners to select multiple challenges, the cumulative impact would be more obvious.)

The survey results also indicate that the learning curve presented a significant challenge to users. This would obviously affect the user experience, providing little incentive to move away from more familiar apps and tools, and ultimately impairing the rate of adoption.

Joel noted that though IT can deliver the latest and greatest, users will often just turn their backs on new solutions. Especially when there is little support in training or encouragement for adoption. So, if IT just deploys a new application or platform and expects the users to employ it in their daily routine, certain disaster awaits. In fact, often the IT team itself is without the skills needed to understand what can be delivered and what potential benefits can be derived from the SharePoint platform. (He implied that this is a lack of business understanding on IT’s part, for what is possible.)

Digging Deeper into the Problem

Joel further focused on three points for evaluating an adoption situation –

Engagement – it’s not just about getting people to use the solution. If that were the case, you could just put the time keeping app on the intranet homepage. (This would get nearly 100% of your users to use some part of the platform, but it does solve the true “engagement” challenge.) They need to really become involve – actively engaged.

Community – Users need information, training, help, and assistance. Building community increases knowledge sharing. He suggests starting an in-house SharePoint User Group, to find the SharePoint leaders and champions. They will in turn share with others and help in the adoption process, benefiting the community and the organization.

Loyalty & Expertise – Your SharePoint team won’t scale by itself. You need to reward and recognize successful efforts on the part of the power users and champions in business. Encouraged, they will increase their efforts and evangelize the adoption of SharePoint.

To do all of this, Joel encouraged the use of a gamifying strategy. By illustrating personal examples from his Delta Frequent Flyer program, LinkedIn profile strength, and FourSquare badge collection, he demonstrated that participation is recognized and rewarded. And that is a very powerful motivator for most people.

With SharePoint 2013, the Microsoft product group recognized that gamification makes a difference in communities and in contributions. One can look at the community settings and see that reputation is built in. You can see and set reputation levels – how many points you get for the different accomplishments and tasks. Ratings result in different reputation points, with the quality of input and interaction affecting point acquisition.

Unfortunately, the reputation feature that has been built into SharePoint 2013 stops at the community level. The great effort to build recognition for who is contributing and encourage participation doesn’t transfer across communities. So, if you have multiple web applications, it is challenging – and it doesn’t actually interact with your team sites.

Joel’s member page shows when he joined and his reputation score (as a Top Contributor in the SharePoint 2013 community). It also shows him how many points are needed to move to the next level – “Earn 318 more points to move to the next level”, a very nice feature.

Joel presented Yammer as another example of game mechanics being effectively employed in a SharePoint environment. The SharePoint Yammer community, which is on top of Yammer, is a group of over 3,000 users, which was established in 2012. An app enables selected users to view leaderboards inside of Yammer. This allows one to not only see who is active, but who is contributing the most quality. It effectively identifies the leaders and champions.

The Cooperation between Badgeville and SharePoint

As the focus switched back to the collaboration between Badgeville and SharePoint, Chris Lynch explored some of the details of the gamification platform that is built on top of SharePoint. The discussion of how gamification elements are applied to the various instances of SharePoint starts from a functional level. (Caroline Dangson would later present the design perspective.)

Identifying Key Behaviors

Continue reading Microsoft SharePoint: How Gamification Might Improve Adoption Rates

Gamification Research: How FarmVille used Black Hat Motivation to drive short-term behavior

Farmville Gamification

New to Gamification? Check out my post What is Gamification & my Gamification Framework: Octalysis

Gamification Research on the Game you don’t want to play but have to play

Most people know about FarmVille, either because they have played it themselves, or because they’ve been harassed by their grandmas to give their farms a nice virtual crop.

FarmVille is one of Zynga’s best performing games, and for some time was Facebook’s most popular game of all time. Currently, it still remains one of the Top 10 Games on Facebook.

The interesting thing is, FarmVille really isn’t that “fun.” It just mastered some very strong game mechanics to get everyone addicted to it, and then have them invite their friends to play with them.

When you ask FarmVille players whether the game is “fun” or not, you never hear people say, “Its SO amazing!” What you actually will hear is, “it’s okay… I play it every day so I guess it’s pretty fun. You should try it, and make sure you become my neighbor and give me these special crops!”

Similar to my post that analyzes the game mechanics of Diablo 3, this post analyzes the game mechanics that FarmVille uses to become Winning & Addicting.

Basic Game Mechanics


Virtual Reality and Fantasy

Like all sim related games, FarmVille allows the player to imagine herself living the life of someone else, in this case the exciting life of a – woopdidoo – Farmer!

Unfortunately, even though there are some applications in this within Gamification, it mostly ties into the concept of Serious Games, so we won’t be learning too much from this here.

Virtual Currency, Goods, and Values

This first thing a game needs to do, is to get the users to care about something. Sometimes it’s overcoming challenges, sometimes it’s finding out more about the storyline, and in Farmville’s case, it’s caring about virtual goods and properties.

FarmVille players are quickly introduced to a FarmVille currency system called Farm Coins, and as they invest more and more time to accumulate Farm Coins, it establishes value in the players head.

More importantly, because players are trying to build the best farm possible, there now is a new value system based on various crops and properties. Points (coins) aren’t just there for kicks and giggles, but there is actually an ecosystem where they could convert into other things that the player has learned to covet but are difficult to obtain.

Most of the other game mechanics can only work because of this value that is installed into the mind of players.

God Farmville Gamification

Ownership and Possession

Continue reading Gamification Research: How FarmVille used Black Hat Motivation to drive short-term behavior

Top 10 Gamification Lessons Inspired by South Park

South Park Gamification

The Genius of South Park

So I’ve been aware of South Park for over a decade now, but I wasn’t a fan because I just thought it was just some potty-mouthed kids who cussed a lot and loved gory death scenes. I didn’t even think the kids had different personalities.

However, last year my friends decided to watch a bunch of South Park for after-work relaxations, and I happened to drop in on a few episodes. What I realized, is that once you get pass the potty-mouth cussing and gory scenes (which I still don’t like), all the kids (and parents) have their unique personalities, flaws, insecurities, and moments of strength. It also actually brings a lot of insights to many deep social issues as well as psychological maneuvers that fit perfectly inline with my Gamification Framework Octalysis.

My mission here on the blog is to teach you how to do *good* gamification design, which is beyond just the Points, Badges, and Leaderboards, but ties directly into the 8 Core Drives of Octalysis (which are intrinsic motivations). But of course, it’s difficult to remember all 8 Core Drives, let alone using them in actual design and thinking.

Hence I thought presenting some lessons of gamification through fun episodes of South Park is a good way to learn in a fun way (after all, Education in Gamification is a big field these days).

1. Cartmanland

In this episode, Cartman inherits $1 Millions from his deceased grandmother, and decides to use almost all it to buy a struggling theme park.

Instead of trying to improve its business, Cartman makes a TV commercial to show how fun “Cartmanland” is and emphasizes that no one besides him can enjoy it.

After realizing he needs to hire a security guard to keep people out, he starts to accept one customer a day to pay the security guard. Then he starts to realize that he needs to hire and pay for more things in order to sustain operations, so he started to open it up to 2, 3, 4, 10s, and then hundreds of people everyday.

Since people all saw how they couldn’t get into Cartmanland, when they learned that it is starting to accept more people, they rushed to get in.

Eventually, everyone wanted to go to Cartmanland and it went from a near-bankrupted theme park into one of the most popular ones ever. This is a great example of the Octalysis Core Drive: Scarcity & Impatience (#6), where people want something, just because they can’t have it.

2. You have 0 Friends

This is a pretty straight foward episode regarding the Core Drive #5: Social Pressure & Envy. In this episode regarding Facebook, Stan sees that every one of his friends is using Facebook, and all of them are feeling that they’re not really “friends” unless Stan adds them.

Stan eventually succumbs to the pressure and starts to use his Facebook account. Then his dad and girlfriend all get mad him for not adding them as friends or changing his status to being in a relationship.

On the other hand, Kyle added an unpopular kid who had no friends in school, which resulted everyone else unfriending him due to “bad association.” Unable to stand the social pressure, Kyle finally unfriends the unpopular kid in school, hoping to add back his popularity again.

In this episode, we also see Core Drive: Development & Accomplishment (#2), as everyone tries to keep track of their friend count, with Cartman jumping for joy when he sees that he had more friends than Kyle.

3. Butters’ Bottom Bitch

In this episode, after Butters becomes a customer of a girl who would kiss anyone for $5, he decides to start a “girl kissing business” where he would hire girls around school and kiss other boys for money.

To motivate the girls, Butters introduced an “employee motivation” system, where the girls would earn a sun on a calendar every time they got clients, but if the girls fail to show up to work that day, they would get a stormy cloud.

This, like most badge and leaderboard systems, focuses on Core Drive #2: Development & Accomplishment, Core Drive #5: Social Pressure & Envy, as well as Core Drive #8: Loss & Avoidance.

It works in kindergarten, and it works for pimps.

4. Chinpokomon

Marketing Gamification: Old Spice launches the Game DIKEMBE MUTOMBO’S 4 1/2 WEEKS TO SAVE THE WORLD

New to Gamification? Check out my post What is Gamification & my Gamification Framework: Octalysis

Old Spice Does it Again

(Note: to play the actual game, scroll down until you find the source of the thrillingly annoying music, and then fullscreen it.)

In 2010, Old Spice swept across all media channels with their “Hello Ladies…” campaign. That was shared and spread on every platform possible, and was one of the most common conversation starters during the time (Of course, those conversation starters later moved on into Rebecca Black’s “Friday” and the wonderful Korean dance Gangnam Style).

Old Spice got men here and there to smell good for some time, but men being men, got back to their good old habits of NOT smelling like an adventure, baking gourmet cakes with the kitchens they made with their own hands,  and definitely NOT swan diving.

Old Spice needed to come up with something more epic for the manly men, not just for the women’s men, and so they again put together the smart minds of Wieden+Kennedy Portland to figure out something that would spread like wildfire again.

The WK folks thought….so what do men like? They like basketball, they like to be the hero and save the world, they like random humor….and, they like video games.

Mix Basketball, a World-saving Hero, Random Humor, and Video Games together, and what comes out of the blender is their newest masterpiece: DIKEMBE MUTOMBO’S 4 1/2 WEEKS TO SAVE THE WORLD (yes, it has to be all caps).

Marketing Gamification through a game to save the world

DIKEMBE MUTOMBO’S 4 1/2 WEEKS TO SAVE THE WORLD is a 8-Bit styled game where users control the Basketball Legend Dikimbe Mutombo to prevent the 2012 end of the world (according to the Mayan’s calendar) from happening by accomplishing small quests that eventually leads to carving up more dates on the Mayan calendar so we can delay humanity’s extinction. At least until the day we invent self-combing hair.

Actually, I’m not sure how the small quests have anything to do with carving the Mayan calendar, but those quests are always relevant to the times: from getting people to stop dancing Gangnam Style so they can vote (with the boss fight being the State of Ohio), to getting rid of a fluffy toy called Blurgies while playing It’s Thanksgiving by Nicole Westbrook, a successor of Rebecca Black).

Of course, we don’t know what will happen next because each stage only unlocks one week at a time (explained later).


Below is the analysis of the campaign through my Complete Gamification Framework called Octalysis:

Dikimbe Mutombo Gamification from Old Spice


As you can see, DM4.5WTSTW (this is my new abbreviation) has a strange rocket shape, as it scores incredibly high in Epic Meaning & Calling, Unpredictability & Curiosity, and Scarcity & Impatience, but very low on most others. Because of that, it earns itself an Octalysis score of 260 (which is almost as high as Twitter!) Continue reading Marketing Gamification: Old Spice launches the Game DIKEMBE MUTOMBO’S 4 1/2 WEEKS TO SAVE THE WORLD