Is fun the killer competence for tomorrow’s business leader?

In the future more and more of our business activities will be done via web technology. Still, the human factor will always remain. And unlike a CPU, people need to be stimulated once in a while to get the most out of them. With the increase in speed and interaction possibilities, business development and sales are about to change a lot.

Managing the fun factor might just be the killer competence for tomorrow’s successful business leader.

The fun factor

In one of our earlier posts we wrote about the end of bonus as a key motivator, because from a certain level on, people get motivated from other things, like responsibility, growth and fun.

Businesses have long considered the following factors as key elements in driving success: targets and to a certain extent also responsibility (ownership) and growth.

Of course, targets, responsibility and growth contribute to fulfilling your company’s ambitions, but perhaps these killer factors have just been overtaken by something more powerful?

The other factor, which might prove to be the killer instrument for the next decade is spelled with just three letters; FUN!

But as strong as the motivational force of fun may be, in many businesses fun received very little attention. It’s reaching goals what adds the fun would be the opinion on this one.

And fun would be something that was implemented around the business, e.g. a foosball table in the company restaurant or Friday afternoon drinks.

But what would happen if fun were to become a big part of our primary processes?


Recent years have shown a dramatic growth in casual gaming and social sharing. What would you have said if someone 3 years ago seriously asked you if Rovio, the company who invented Angry Birds, could become a billion dollar (yes, seriously!) company? For the record: Forbes reported in December 2011 that Rovio was talking with investors about 1.2 billion dollar investment in the company, with rumours a month later buzzing about Arvopaper being willing to cough up 6 billion dollar for the company, and the owners of Rovio supposedly rejected a 2.25 billion dollar acquisition offer.

Talking about serious moolah, Zynga, with their game Farmville, has been a huge driver for Facebook’s success.  Key element is the evolvement of the game around the dynamics of appointment gaming. In plain English this means that a player gets rewarded for logging in or participating in a game to score extra points. And yes that reminds us of the Tamagotchi. Or for that matter, the all new 2013 Furby (but let’s NOT go there).

Done contemplating about B2C and casual gaming? Ok, back to the now!

Socials influence on business
Social media generate a lot of data, of followers, interactions, influencers, actions, etc. When Linkedin asked me to complete my profile by adding more information, I did this instantly, because I wanted to have a complete profile.

Klout is a perfect example of gamification: they give you a score, and you can compare it to others. Stimulating you to find out why your competitor has a higher score than you have for example.

And all this data can be used for useful or simply interesting insights, like comparing the scores of different NBA teams. Of course, one could also do this with friends, colleagues or personal inspirators.

Is gamification here to stay?

Recently the Wall Street Journal published an article, stating that tech-industry research firm Gartner estimates that by 2014, some 70% of large companies will use the [ gamification] techniques for at least one business process. Market researcher M2 Research estimates revenue from gamification software, consulting and marketing will reach $938 million by 2014 from less than $100 million this year.

And if the fact that consultants have adopted gamification isn’t yet enough, Time Magazine sees 5 other reasons why gamification will rule the business. These 5 are:

  1. Gamification exploits some very basic instincts.
  2. Technology makes all things easier, especially competition
  3.  Boredom!
  4. Money isn’t everything
  5.  Fantasy football!

The basic instincts that are referred to here are those of being challenged and rewarded. Technology allows us to use real time data to (inter)act on. Money isn’t everything, we talked about that one in introduction of this article. Boredom refers to the pace change we have undergone and we are still undergoing. Everything, from TV shows, to shopping to business is moving along in a much more frantic pace. We need to be entertained in order to remain focused.

Fantasy football is focusing on fantasy sports, focusing on sports fans, who can have a second life as a club owner, deepening the engagement and thus loyalty. In a way applicable to business, but mainly B2C.

With gamification you can enhance your competitive lead. In our next post we’ll be talking about concrete ways to apply gamification to your own (B2B) business!

About the author

Over the past few years Walter van der Scheer has been evangelizing marketing automation to advertising agencies, e-commerce companies and co-workers alike and has been building a team of determined sales professionals. He has made progress, but the road ahead is still very long. Walter shares his personal experiences and challenges along the road of changing the way that marketing is done, while trying to stick to the strategically chosen path. +

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