Gamification: SAP Authors Write Book on Engaging Business Software

Discussion Forum Design & UX Gamification: SAP Authors Write Book on Engaging Business Software
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Do you want to learn more about gamification? How it belongs in the workplace? And the design best practices that can increase the efficacy of enterprise gamification efforts? Then stay tuned because here – two weeks before publication – you get a sneak peek into the insightful and powerful book “Gamification at Work: Designing Engaging Business Software”, written by Janaki Kumar and Mario Herger, who help you learn how to answer these questions. Janaki Kumar is Head of Strategic Design Services at SAP and Mario Herger is a Senior Innovation Strategist at SAP Labs in Palo Alto, California.

“Gamification at Work” is a practical guide for user experience designers, product managers and developers showing how they can incorporate the principles of gamification into their business software. Kumar and Herger provide plentiful examples of enterprise gamification both from inside and outside SAP, they introduce legal and ethical considerations, and provide pointers to other resources to continue your journey in designing gamification that works! The book is highly illustrated and an inspiring quote serves as a kick starter into each chapter.


SAP Roadwarrior is a game that simulates a customer meeting in which the sales rep needs to respond to customer questions to earn points and unlock badges.  Here a SAP Roadwarrior screen is showing the simulated sales negotiation with the CTO of a car auctioning company. (Copyright © SAP AG. All Rights Reserved. Used without permission under the Fair Use Doctrine. See the “Exceptions” section (and subsection “fairUse”) of the copyright notice.)


Do not just cover your broccoli with chocolate

In its November 2012 press release, Gartner predicts that “by 2015, 40% of Global 1000 organizations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations”. In the same report, they also predict that “by 2014, 80% of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives, primarily due to poor design”.

Janaki Kumar and Mario Herger caution against taking a “chocolate covered broccoli” approach of simply adding points and badges to business applications and calling them gamified. Instead, they suggest a different approach. In the 155 page book they recommend a process inspired by the well-established design philosophy called User Centered Design (UCD), but Player Centered Design goes beyond UCD to incorporate the concept of engagement.

Two weeks before publication of the book you now get a sneak peek into the second chapter where the core process of gamification is presented:


2.2 Beyond User Centered Design

Designers who adopt the user centered design philosophy in their daily work pay attention to the user’s goals, and strive to build products that help the user achieve them in an efficient, effective, and satisfactory manner (footnote 1).

While effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction are worthy goals, gaming and gamification extends and adds increased engagement to these goals. In the context of a game, players voluntarily seek challenges to enhance their playing experience. They seek empowerment over efficiency, delight and fun over mere satisfaction. These factors increase their level of engagement in the game.

2.3 Overview of Player Centered Design Process

To help designers deal with these changing rules and rising expectations, we introduce a concept called Player Centered Design that puts the player at the center of the design and development process. The figure below illustrates the process of Player Centered Design and outlines the various steps to help structure your gamification project.

Player Centered Design Process. (Courtesy of Janaki Kumar and Mario Herger. Copyright: CC-Att-ND (Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported).)

The goal of this process is to provide a framework in which to think about gamification. It is not meant to be a series of rigid, uni-directional steps, but rather an iterative and adaptive framework. We encourage you to review this process in the context of your own organization and modify it if needed, while closely monitoring results.

2.3.1 Understand the player

The first step in the player centered design approach is to understand the player and his/her context. The success of your gamification efforts depends on this clear understanding.

Is your player a sales representative, a financial controller, an employee, a supplier, or a customer? Identify him/her and understand as much as you can about him/her.

Chapter 3 will elaborate on the multiple facets of a player and his/her relationship to gaming preferences.

2.3.2 Understand the Mission

The next step is to define the Mission. This step involves understanding the current business scenario (what players are doing today), identifying the desired or target business outcome (what management wants to achieve), and setting an appropriate mission for your gamification project.

Chapter 4 outlines the techniques that will help analyze the current scenario and identify the target business outcome. The chapter offers guidelines to set a specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound (S.M.A.R.T.) gamification mission based on this analysis.

Player centered design is an iterative process. Therefore, while defining the mission, you will learn more about the player; it is worthwhile to consider this new information and its impact on gamification.

2.3.3 Understand Human Motivation

There are a number of theories of human motivation. We recommend you familiarize yourself with the latest research on motivation in order to create effective game mechanics. Chapter 5 will present a curated list of motivational drivers to get you started and introduce you to additional resources.

2.3.4 Apply Game Mechanics

Armed with a clear understanding of the player, the mission, and the theory behind human motivation, it is time to apply game mechanics, and create a positive flow for your gamification project. Game mechanics refer to the UI elements with which a player interacts such as badges, points, leaderboards and many more. Chapter 6 provides a list of game mechanics relevant to enterprise software.

2.3.5 Manage, Monitor and Measure

Gamification is a program and not a project. Therefore, it is important to start small, closely monitor progress, and adjust as needed. The mission needs to be managed, the motivation needs to be monitored, and mechanics need to be measured continuously.

Chapter 7 elaborates on how to manage gamification of enterprise software successfully, and increase player engagement. It offers tips for success in a corporate environment.

2.3.6 Other considerations in the enterprise context

Chapter 8 elaborates on the legal and ethical considerations that impact gamification in the context of the enterprise. Privacy and workers’ protection practices vary between countries, and what may be legal in one country may not be in another.

The ethics of gamification need to be considered as part of any project. Gamification can be used to engage and motivate, but never manipulate.

The ultimate goal of gamification is to engender positive emotions in the player such as fun, trust and delight. It is important not to forget this when working on the serious aspects of gamification.

We provide a number of enterprise gamification examples in chapter 9, with a link to a website with many more.


“Gamification at Work” authors

Janiki Kumar who is Head of Strategic Design Services, America at SAP’s Design and Co-Innovation Center. She leads a team of interaction designers, visual designers and user reseachers to design innovative solutions for strategic customers. You can follow Janiki on twitter at @JanikiKumar

Mario Herger is a Senior Innovation Strategist at SAP Labs in Palo Alto, California as well as Global Head of The Gamification Initiative at SAP where he has encountered and supported gamification efforts in the enterprise from multiple levels and departments, like Sustainability, On Demand, Mobile, HR, etc. He is ranked at the “Leaderboarded Gamification Gurus” list under the top 5.


Want to know more? Read the book – it is free in the online version

The book is just about to hit the shelves in bookstores worldwide and because SAP is the prime sponsor of the Interaction Design Foundation, this book will be completely free in its online edition once it is published. This is part of SAP’s commitment to improve User Experience and Design Thinking – not just for SAP employees but for all user experience designers, product managers and developers.

Because of the free edition, the book will be read freely by millions of people around the world and thus help a wide array of people design more engaging business software. From university students in emerging economies and low-budget startups to  ivy league universities and high-end consultancies.

If you are a SAP employee you can self-register for a free IDF membership and get an advance copy of “Gamification at Work” and all other upcoming books two weeks before they are published – as well as getting access to a variety of membership benefits at:

All others can become mebers at :

Or you can sign up on IDF’s book mailing list and get an advance copy here:



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This is great, very relevant for today’s business software. The goal of all application software should be that they are engaging. Unfortunately, most business software today fails miserably.

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