The immersive capabilities of online gaming offer many possibilities for enhancing customer experience and employee training
The misconception that online gaming only leads to negative outcomes like immaturity, addiction, poverty, or wasted time can be challenged by examining the technology behind it and its potential for business applications. The immersive capabilities of online gaming offer many possibilities for enhancing customer experience and employee training. In this installment of the Navigator MasterClass, we aim to dispel myths and explore the realities of online gaming, including success stories that showcase its true nature.
We will discover that the value of online gaming for business lies not in promoting brands through product or signage placement but in harnessing technological advancements.
Drives exceptional user engagement
One all-encompassing concept is gamification, which involves incorporating game-like elements into non-game environments, particularly through simulation and role-play to increase their effectiveness. Employee training is an obvious application, where activities like reskilling and process reengineering can benefit from increased engagement. Adding points, rewards, and levels can further motivate employees and serve as evaluation criteria. Deloitte has successfully implemented this approach with games like "Utopia" for cyber security training, "Deloitte Leadership Academy" for leadership training, and "Innovate" for problem-solving skills training. The success of their game "Utopia" has led them to help clients build their own, creating a new revenue source.
For instance, IBM and Marriott have also embraced this concept with "Innov8" for business process management and "My Marriott Hotel" for hotel management skills, respectively. IBM took this approach further with "Innovation Jam," which brought employees and customers together to solve business challenges and generated over 50,000 ideas, many of which were implemented.
The same immersive capabilities provide exciting opportunities for not just customer engagement but in promoting new features and products. Nike and Adidas have done it successfully, through “Reactland” and “The Quest” respectively, showcasing the features of new shoes during the game. Adidas went as far as to enter everyone who completed the course into sweepstakes for a trip to the New York Marathon. Mcdonald's used its “McPlay” to engage with young customers, rewarding them with real-world food, and thus building brand loyalty. Marriott and Hilton have also used real-world rewards in their customer games that have promoted their properties.
Real-world experience in a safe and controlled environment
Ford took Online Gaming Technology to a different level through experiential engagement; it let users experience a car crash as the driver, raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. Such experiential gamification can be even more effective when combined with other emerging technologies. L’Oreal combined it with Augmented Reality to let users try on various makeup products (with a mobile camera); a new low-cost try-before-you-buy offering.
The other business areas where Online Gaming Technology can be successful are Conferences and Events (virtual or offline), Market Research, Product Testing, User Behaviour Analysis, Team Building, and so on. It is not difficult to imagine the uses of this technology in other sectors like education. In a paper published by professors from Finland and USA in the “BMC Medical Education” journal, it was shown that gamification significantly improved the retention of medical concepts by students. Similar results have been reported in various research papers from around the world. Such success stories hold great promise for customer and employee training in a business environment.
As mentioned earlier, online gaming technology when coupled with other emerging technologies can be used for the rapid assimilation of concepts and ideas into experiences, including what-if scenarios. Besides Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, Digital Twins, Additive Manufacturing, and Spatial Computing come to mind as obvious companions.
The concerns surrounding the use of online gaming technology primarily revolve around ethical considerations, biases, and the legal regulation of its utilization. However, these risks are not unique to this technology and raise larger questions about all emerging technologies. If individuals can legally participate in virtual weddings during a pandemic with attendees, including the priest, appearing as game characters, it demonstrates the potential for this technology. This author suggests calling it "fun-ification" rather than gamification, as it brings the experience to the person instead of the other way around, in a way that they desire.
The primary challenges in deploying online gaming technology are the need for creativity in designing gamification modalities and ensuring that game addiction behavior is not fostered.
The IT departments have to take a serious look at deploying this technology that is easily accessible and has proven itself in many ways. Ignoring it would be like (as mentioned by this author earlier) ignoring video streaming or online payments simply because they were created by the adult entertainment industry. Or even thinking of online gaming technology like some did about the ATM as being only a cash dispensing machine during off-banking hours; is is now more than a service point that does everything that a branch did when it was first introduced and more.
- Akash Jain, the author of the article, has extensive experience managing IT organizations for both global players such as MasterCard and Reliance, as well as lean IT organizations for startups. His expertise spans across various industries including financial and retail technologies.