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Big Data Meets Gamification

Gamification is the friendly scout of Big Data

In the coming years, Big Data will change the way organizations and societies are operated and managed. Big data however, is not the only trend that will impact significantly how organizations operate. Another major trend at the moment is gamification. Gamification will change the way organizations connect with consumers and it will provide extremely valuable big data that can be turned into insights.

Let's first look at what gamification exactly is. Gamification is the use of game elements in non-game contexts. It can be used externally, to interact with customers and improve marketing efforts that lead to increased sales. Gamification is also used internally, where gamification can lead to increased employee productivity as well as internal crowd sourcing activities. Finally, gamification can be used to change behaviour of consumers. A great example of this is the quantified-self movement that get people to engage and change their behavior.

The game elements that are often used in gamification are points, challenges, awards, leader boards, levels, avatars and badges. As such, gamification can motivate users to perform certain tasks. More over, it can be used to learn something, to achieve something, to stimulate personal development / health. The goal is to make real life experiences better and make people more willing to do something. It must be clear that gamification is not a game; it is merely game elements used in a different context.

Because of the many different aspects that are generally built in a gamification context, it provides a lot of data that can be analysed. Users can be compared to see how they perform and why some group is performing better or worse than the other group. Especially when users have to sign-in via the social graph, a lot of public data can be added to provide context around the gamification data.  Apart from the different elements that provide direct viewable insights, gamification can also be used to better understand how consumers behave and perform the tasks at hand. For example, it can be noticed how long different groups take to achieve a certain challenge or how they use certain products. This information can be used to improve products and / or services.

Gamification is all about motivating people to act as well as to motivate them to share the right information in the right context. In fact, gamification should be viewed as a catalyst to share and the more engaged users are, the more they will share. Resulting in more attention to the company.

The success of a gamification concept depends on the quality and speed of the information that is returned to the user. The better this content reflects the user's interest, the more involved the user will be. This personalized content can be created using big data. Clicking behaviour, time needed to perform certain challenges, interaction levels at the platform with others can be combined with public data such as tweets or posts shared on social networks as well as the profiles of those users on those social network. When properly stored, analysed and visualized, this will generate a lot of insights. However, users do expect instant feedback and results. Thus real-time processing, analysing and visualizing of the data are extremely important.

Gamification has the potential to become more and more integrated with our lives. When gamification becomes an integral part of our lives, even more data will be generated. A great, futuristic video shows the possibilities of a gamified society. Just think of the massive amounts of data it will generate and the new insights this can provide to organisations.

With big data we will get to know much better how and why someone behaves in a gamified context and as such it gives us insights in how that person behaves in real-life. That information is very valuable for advertisers that want to reach consumers with the right message in the right context at the right moment.

Big Data and Gamification
The right design of gamification is very important for it to deliver the desired results and insights. Gartner predicts that 80% of the gamification solutions will fail to reach its objectives due to poor design. Poor design could lead to poor data quality and no insights. As with big data, visualisations and great design are really important.

There are several advantages that can be achieved when combing big data and gamification:

First of all, big data provides transparent, real-time and personalized feedback to the user. Using this data the user can receive various rewards, loyalty and/or social awards;

Personalized gamification elements will increase the involvement of the end-user with the product. More interaction could lead to more sharing and thus online reach for the company. With big data, the gamification elements become more engaging and, more importantly, more fun too;

Big data will provide insights into the behaviour of users, on an aggregated level as well as an individual level. This data can be used to improve the products and services offered;

With big data it is important that the insights derived from the massive amounts of data are actually used. Gamification can help to turn an organisation into an information-centric organisation by applying game elements in the dashboards that visualize the data;

Roman Rackwitz states that gamification can advance big data into smart data. Personalized and relevant feedback based on the choices made in the gamified context will increase the interaction and draw a user more into the big data dashboard. This will result in more involvement and interest in data-driven insights and thus better decision-making.

There are a lot of similarities between big data and gamification. One could even say that gamification is the friendly scout of big data, gathering data from literally 1000s of potential actions that can be measured, but in a user friendly and engaging manner. The insights that come from any good gamification platform are enormous and, if visualized correctly, it can provide valuable insights to organisations as well as help to create an information-centric organisation.

This story was originally posted on

More Stories By Mark van Rijmenam

Mark van Rijmenam is a Big Data Strategist and the Founder of

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