Grow SharePoint Adoption by Using Gamification

Motivate users by making learning and usage fun!

by Karl Sand on 3/24/2014

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Date Revised:

Applies to:
community, Gamification, Microsoft SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint is now in its second decade as a collaboration platform, and recent studies have shown that almost 4 out of 5 Fortune 500 companies use the product. On the surface the deployment numbers look great. Worldwide, the number of SharePoint users has been reported to be over 125 million. But the interesting feedback from SharePoint customers is that the majority of them use SharePoint for simple file sharing or for document libraries. Most organizations have yet to recognize SharePoint as a strategic platform and take advantage of its full potential. Why you ask? Well that’s a good damn question!

In most organizations, IT manages SharePoint deployments. IT designs the infrastructure, deploys and supports the software, and provides training for the users. IT can lead the horses to water, but they don’t quite know how to make users thirsty. Therein lays the true problem of user adoption. Users have no incentives to take advantage of SharePoint’s different product capabilities beyond accessing documents that have been moved from old, server file shares.

This is where gamification could play a leading role to increase end-user adoption of broader SharePoint capabilities and boost organizational productivity. Gamification provides the carrot without the need for a stick.

What is gamification?

Think about gamification as a way to use recognition and rewards to motivate end-users. This approach encourages a deeper learning of concepts, shows users how to take advantage of online system features that are outside of a user’s normal comfort zone, and ultimately provides a model for users to adopt new technology. Gamification works because people all share the same psychological desire for achievement, recognition, rewards, self-expression, competition, and status. People like to know where they stand in comparison with others. And these desires span all cultures, genders, and even generation gaps.

By using the appropriate set of game mechanics around your intranet portal, you can create an experience that drives the behavior you want by satisfying human desires. The game mechanics are the actions, processes, and control methods used to gamify an activity. For instance, metadata tags are essential for good knowledge management. If you want users to do a better job of applying meta-data tags to content they upload or edit, you can implement a gaming model that tracks specific activity and rewards the users accordingly. Here's how it might work:

  • Game: Meta-Data Tagging

  • Tracking: End-Users Applying Appropriate Information to Content / Documents

  • Rewards:

    • On-line Badges Awarded: starting from “Metadata Groupie” and going all the way up to “Taxonomy Professor”

    • Monthly Award: dinner for 2 at local restaurant

    • Quarterly Award: Top metadata tagger has his or her picture and profile posted to front page of company intranet portal, showcasing them as a star employee

Now, not everyone in the organization is going to fall over themselves to start tagging content with metadata. However, those with either a propensity to do so, or those that are attracted to the rewards offered by the game will. And your intranet content goes from being haphazardly tagged with metadata to systematically being tagged with metadata by educated and enthusiastic users. Game on!

So why not wrap these tactics around your SharePoint deployment to help drive adoption where users need to be motivated or incentivized? And SharePoint 2013 even has built-in capabilities to provide the core components to get you started.

Game mechanics features in SharePoint 2013

The most common game mechanics include concepts such as ratings, badges, rankings, and comments to help identify similar answers and experts, and to showcase top contributors. Now, SharePoint 2013 has a community-driven feature set that you can use to implement gamification tactics. You can see what is available by reading the Overview of Communities in SharePoint Server 2013 . Examples of the type of game mechanics provided include:

  • Reputation levels based on points earned

  • Badges awarded for activity / tasks

  • Like ratings for content / postings

  • Top contributor tracking

  • Security access based on specific user badges

For governance on this new model, there is no right or wrong to managing this type of content. SharePoint doesn’t treat community-driven content the same way as it treats team site content. For example, team site content normally has a lifecycle policy attached to it based on its classification. However, for community-driven content, no such policy is required because as content is rated, commented, and liked, it provides a way to find information quickly.

For more information on gamification and best practices, please refer to the white paper and report links below.

- Gamification White Paper at:

- Gamification Strategic Approach Report from Forrester:

Topic: Tutorial

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