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Deskarma: Gamification as social currency for workplace change


An emerging work trend is workplace gamification — the use of gaming techniques to make work fun.

And it’s not just the social networks that are getting into this. Even the World Bank and the U.S. Army are embracing these methods to foster innovation, among other things.

It’s no wonder technology think tank Gartner is talking up gamification, predicting that over half of the organizations that manage innovation will gamify their processes by 2015. Forrester pegs the market for broader collaborative software growing to a $6.4 billion market by 2016, reflecting a compound growth rate of 61%.

It is this interesting, and attractive, market that Deskarma, among others, has eyed for the past couple of years. Today, co-founder Mark O’Neill says the company is finding increasing traction in Australia, even though it has a presence in Britain, too.

“We are placing greater focus on the Australian marketplace where we have found a growing start-up presence, more digitally/social networking-minded consumers and businesses willing to try something new to solve an old problem of collaboration,” he told Anthill in an interview.

Deskarma provides gamified knowledge sharing solutions for medium to large businesses through its own application or by working with APIs that run on collaboration solutions such as Microsoft’s SharePoint. The latter helps overcome corporate skittishness over use of multiple platforms.

With the accounting firm of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, also O’Neill’s employer, as its marquee client, Deskarma says it is in a “growth” phase with “high level of user engagement in the product, strong brand development” and expansion into the mobile space, which O’Neill says will be a game changer.

“Our core web application continues to do well, but we have seen success using our API and plug-in with existing SharePoint systems. For many businesses SharePoint seems to be the collaborative system they struggle to engage users on,” said O’Neill. “The Deskarma API/plug-in brings elements of gamification (leaderboards, levels, badges, rewards) to the platform that really drives usage. We have the stats to prove it.”

Part of this trend toward gamification is psychological because it fundamentally changes the way people work with others.

“Businesses are continually looking to innovate, and knowledge sharing has always been recognised as being vital to innovation. However, ensuring that your employees share expertise is tougher than it sounds, largely because it can require genuine cultural change,” said O’Neill. “It’s one thing to have the right tools in place to make collaboration easy for staff, but we have found they need more than that — they need the right recognition structures in place to motivate behavior.”

Deskarma, with its suggestive name, has been built in the lofty belief that employees using gamification techniques can earn a form of social currency, or karma, via collaboration. Indeed, it just might foster the change it seeks to bring about.