One of my favourite winners in the 2013 Intranet Innovation Awards is Virtuos, a video game and animation production house headquartered in Shanghai, China. The Intranet Innovation Awards are global awards celebrating innovation in the intranet space which I help to co-ordinate for Step Two Designs and James Robertson.
Virtuos’ new intranet Virtuos.net, is based on WordPress and a variety of plug-ins. It has various social features which have helped create engagement with a young and dispersed workforce. However what impressed me the most, and also the judges of the Awards (which include Martin White and Jane McConnell) is how Virtuos have used a little gamification to boost its formal training programme.
The team behind the intranet design have cleverly tapped into the gaming habits of the young game-loving staff and presented formal training and knowledge-sharing contributions as badges to be gained and unlocked in a way not dissimilar to a computer game. Training elements are also presented as a career path, so employees can clearly see the courses they need to pass in order to help them advance in the company. As in a computer game this is a little like moving up a level.
Each employee can see a view of their training (“certificates”) and knowledge-sharing actions such as 100 forum posts (“achievements”). There is also some use of leaderboards, but my sense is that the individual view for each user is more important.
Specialist training paths are also shown for particular roles such as programming, with all the relevant items needed. From a training area within the intranet, users can also see the details around each course, download course materials and interact with other employees undertaking the training.
While the business benefits of gamification are unproved and sometimes hard to quantify, the introduction of Virtuos.net has had an obvious and measurable impact. There has been a spectacular year on year growth of 500% in the number of courses taken by employees from 2011 to 2012. Clearly this will have major benefits for the firm not only through up-skilling the workforce, but also in engaging staff by offering a clear structure for career progression.
Knowledge-sharing is also recognised as a positive, and documentation for performance reviews recommends that an individual’s contributions in this area are an input into the review.
This example of gamification has some of the elements which are, in my view, critical for success. These include:
- Being appropriate for the organisational culture
- Ensuring that points relate to off-line behaviour, not just online
- Being firmly tied to a business process with real value
- Having measurable success criteria or KPIs
- Having a formal but not mandatory input into the performance review
- A good user experience
If you’d like more detail on Virtuos.net there is a full case study in this year’s Intranet Innovation Awards report. With 19 detailed case studies of leading-edge intranets and hundreds of screenshots, its really very good value at just over £50 or under $85 USD. (Disclosure: I wrote the report!)