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Gamification

A brief look back on 20 years in business

So, who is Pete Jenkins?

I started out running an IT business in August 2000. The business wasn’t gamification related the whole time. The business predates the coming of gamification as an industry.

Our IT business was particularly focused on CRMs (customer relationship management) databases, big complicated bits of software. I eventually got fed up with watching my users not use all the features they paid for. So back in early 2012 I went looking for a better way to do it. I was looking for different design styles, UX and UI as a fix, and I saw the word gamification. I like playing games, and thought what’s this? There was (and still is) a small online course from by Kevin Werbach on Coursera about gamification. I signed up for that and a few weeks in I realized this was either the answer or it wasn’t going to be possible to engage people to master complicated bits of software. I gave a talk on gamification to my local Chamber of Commerce members and the idea really resonated with them.

So, I started using a gamified CRM, that I found from the US called Zurmo, in my own business. I soon realized that it was much more exciting. Much more fun. So I sold the telecoms part of my existing IT business. This gave me some money and allowed me time to focus on gamification. For the first year or so I just concentrated on selling Gamified CRMs into the UK.

Gamifying CRMs gave it a strong USP and soon I was doing 4 times as much business as I’d been doing selling CRMs in previous years. In fact it was a lot easier because actually most of my clients were on their third, fourth or even fifth CRM system and they’d come to realize it wasn’t just the features it was about getting people to actually use those features!

In terms of gamification features in the CRM it was quite simple. Mostly around game mechanics designed to onboard people. To get them comfy with using it, and exploring features. Because once they were explored and the features were used, so they were more likely to use the features in the future. There wasn’t any of the modern stuff we’d see now, like achieving your goals and getting up skilled. It was much simpler. But it was very effective.

Separately from the gamified CRMs I started taking on some gamification consulting work. Because I had some money behind me from selling the past business I was able to be a bit picky about what I got to work on. So I’ve done quite a lot of different interesting projects. Without a particular niche, just whatever took my interest. From running a business point of view is poor, but from a personal fulfilment side of things works really well 🙂

Within gamification consulting I’ve worked in the HR space, so employee engagement programs, culture change, the occasional marketing related project and some sustainability and health related projects more recently. All are around changing mindsets and behaviours.

Over the past few years I’ve also enjoyed speaking about gamification at conferences around the world. Then, in 2017, I launched Gamification Europe, which is now the main gamification conference in Europe. I also launched the gamification awards as well. So, through both of those, I get to see a lot of other good examples of gamification out there.

Now I’m wondering what the next 20 years will look like…