Harvard Business Review
If you’re trying to use advanced analytics to improve your organization’s decisions, join the club. Most of the companies I talk to are embarked on just such a quest. But it’s a rocky one.
The technological challenge is hard enough. You have to identify the right data and develop useful tools, such as predictive algorithms. But then comes an even tougher task: getting people to actually use the new tools.
Why is the people factor so important? It’s easy enough to automate routine decisions, such as identifying likely buyers for a product upgrade. But many decisions in today’s knowledge economy depend on expertise and experience. Think of bankers deciding on business loans, product developers determining tradeoffs between features and cost, or B2B sales reps figuring out which prospects to target. Analytics can help codify the logic of the best decision makers, but it can’t replace human judgment.
Moreover, the tools developed for contexts like these can be complex, often involving a steep learning curve. If decision makers aren’t willing to experiment with the tool and improve their outcomes over time, then your investment in the technology is wasted.
Right here, some say, is where a company could use gamification to encourage people to invest the time and learn how to use the new tools.
Gamification means using motivational techniques like those the videogame industry has put to such effective use. Anyone with teenagers in the house knows that they will spend long hours on their own, trying to get to the next level of their favorite game. Motivation experts like Dan Pink would say that the games are tapping into some basic human drives: for autonomy (you control your own pace), for mastery (you get better over time), and for a sense of purpose (you’re aiming at a well-defined goal). The social factor is important, too. Gamers love to match their skills against others and to compare notes on how they’re doing.