July 2015

There is a big scam in technology that is almost universally played by platform providers of all kinds – and we pretty much always just go along with it, undervaluing ourselves and making them richer at our personal expense.

It happened to me, just today when my mobile service provider sent me this SMS:

Based on yr last call to us, how likely r u to recommend [us] to a friend/colleague?

Why do they expect me to provide them with this information? Because I probably will. Because most people do (or enough do, to make the results statistically meaningful).

But why would I do that? What’s in it for me?

Well, there are some intrinsic motivations that could drive my response:

  • The will to express myself, to be heard
  • The will to be cooperative
  • The will to feel like I am an instrumental part of something that I am involved in

Great.  Satisfaction of these intrinsic motives does sustain behaviour. The persistence of  platform providers in trading on these motives is evidence of that fact. +play does the same thing in its gamification designs, hitching a ride on things that players are already primed to do by their intrinsic motivations.

But wait.

Presumably, my response is of value to the provider. I doubt that they would go to the expense of asking for it, collecting the response, compiling it, interpreting it, etc., if it was worth nothing to them. And being a business, that boils down to it being worth money to them. So, what is my cut?

My mobile service provider is neither my friend, my family member nor a charity that I support. It does not fall into any category in my life to which I gladly donate my personal property. It is immeasurably financially richer than I am now or will ever be but by asking me help them improve their service, they are expecting me to make a donation to them! They pay their employees to make guesses as to what kind of service I want but they won’t give me any form of extrinsic value for giving them actual facts about it?

I think that is fundamentally disrespectful to me as a ‘valued customer’ and suggests that their view of me is actually just, ‘an asset to be exploited’. I know a mobile service provider is not an app but it reflects a highly prevalent attitude I see in technology providers of all types.

Listen guys, without me (and all your other customers), you wouldn’t exist. If our information and opinions are important to the sustainability of your business, acknowledge that in some meaningful way. We deserve better.

#nosuchthingasafreelunch

 

0

Gamification isn’t really anything new in so far as there is no single part of gamification that has not been done before under another name. Even the ground on which gamification is built, the innate human compulsion to play, is as old as mankind itself.

What is new about gamification is the systematic marriage of psychology (particularly the psychology of motivation and behaviour modification), design and data to create powerful systems for engaging people and shaping their behaviour.

But achieving a happy and productive marriage of these different elements is difficult – and success is unlikely to be achieved in the design equivalent of a Las Vegas wedding chapel.

Professor Kevin Werbach from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and Professor Dan Hunter from Victoria, Australia’s Swinburne University have just published what I think is the first real ‘desk manual’ for gamification design, The Gamification Toolkit: Dynamics Mechanics, and Components for the Win.

Werbach and Hunter lay out in clear, unambiguous and simple detail what needs to go into an effective gamification design process, while emphasising that there are no ‘one size fits all’ solutions in this field. A good design comes from a careful and systematic approach that focuses resolutely on the business goals, end-users and context of the design.

Highly recommended.