Improving Adoption of Data Products Using Gamification

Elijah Meeks has been writing a couple of posts talking about how data visualization can learn quite a bit from video games. If you have not read these posts I highly recommend you to do so (1,2). They provide some great insight, and they have also made me to come back thinking about how a data product can be gamified.

Adoption of data products and analytics projects has always been a huge challenge. I remember my seniors told me this when I started working with data and analytics, and to this day adoption is still a big challenge when doing data projects. In my opinion data and analytics is such an interesting field because it consists of one very technical part and then a part that is more about people, communication and culture. You need to have technical people to implement a solution, but if we stop there we have used a lot of money for moving and prepping data which as little to no value on its own. So here we need people that know a lot about implementing change, culture and communication to take over. We need our data product to be used, to be explored and we need our users to trust the data and dare to be affected by what they are being presented with. So where does gamification come in?

Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.

Almost every game on Steam has achievements for the players to achieve. You can get a badge for everything from discovering locations to completing a certain number of quests or playing the game for a certain amount of hours. This should be directly transferable to data products. Think about onboarding for a new employee, or a whole organization on a new data product. What if we create a tutorial showing the user how to navigate it, where to find this and that and then present her with a huge badge of an achievement when she has finished the toturial? Most likely she will get a feeling of acomplishment, which is always nice, but hopefully she also get curious to which other badges she might be able to collect. This makes it so she wants to keep exploring what else is in the solution, and search every corner of the data product not only for insight, but also badges for achievements.

Example of achievments accomplished in the game Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Why not present the users with a badge for logging in to the application for a certain amount of days in a row, or in a month? Give them a badge for having looked at every page in a reporting solution. The following list has some achievements that comes to my mind, but I’m sure you can create more.

First Hit — “Completed tutorial”
Regular Customer — “Logged in for 15 consecutive working days”
Returning Customer — “Returning after 15 days away?”
Explorer — “Looked at every single report page”
Influencer — “Given feedback on solution”
Addicted — “Are you doing your job or just searching for badges?”

Now of course we can’t go completely overboard with gamification. The most important part is that our users get more insights and find the answers they seek so they can make better descisions. For some users it might be enough simply seeing if something is going good or bad, and if that does not trigger the need to do any actions they can go back and do their regular job. If a store manager goes completelly gaga to find every badge that is available it might go outside what we want him to spend his time on, which is most likely selling a product.

Gamification is a way of playing with our users to improve user engagement and create a feeling of acomplishment. Adoption of data and analytics products are still a challenge and any tool we can use to motivate users to use, and explore, it in a higher degree is well worth considering.