Adding Gamification to SharePoint 2016 for User Adoption

Adding Gamification to SharePoint 2016 for User Adoption

By Micheal Mullen | May 20, 2016

Why would SharePoint, a collaboration platform for business productivity, need a game? The answer is simple: productivity.

Many years ago, I worked on a game called Majestic that offered a level of collaboration that I’ve yet to see in other games. Players would follow a conspiracy storyline that was given to them via videos, calls, emails, faxes and IMs. Players would find and send digital assets and clues to the story’s characters and other players to continue the story.

The Future of SharePoint video for the SharePoint 2016 GA launch made me think about using Majestic’s gamification activities as a way to educate users and increase user adoption of SharePoint and Office 365. For the uninitiated, gamification is a popular method of applying gaming principles to non-gaming activities. Users perform these activities together as in an environment where collaboration or competition activities earn users rewards or bragging rights.

Gamification started changing the way Microsoft collaboration worked around 2012 when community sites were introduced and Yammer was purchased. Before then, SharePoint 2010 had the ability to use tags, add notes and rate specific items – which are a base level of gamification. Just to clarify, that gamification in Microsoft’s collaboration solutions was usually of competition, awareness of other people’s success, and presentation of performance metrics in a collaborative context.

What we saw at the GA launch was how data gathering in Office Graph can be used to present information in Delve as well as common collaboration elements. With SharePoint 2016, a team site has an activity feed that is not only “latest documents” but is applicable to the user who is coming to that team site.

The same information is available in the SharePoint Mobile App so users can gain insight into what their team is doing. This is gamification, the ability to see that users are working on documents, creating the desire to positively compete and show your peers that you are productive too.

SharePoint: The Game

So a new user joins a company with no SharePoint or active collaboration experience but they need to be educated. Given the choice of a watching a series of education videos, most would choose to play a game. To make it fun, let’s call our game’s storyline, “The Hack” and rename “user” to “player.” On a player’s first day, they’re given the task to use SharePoint and other collaboration tools to track a would-be hacker inside the environment.

Once “The Hack” game is added to SharePoint, the IT admin might be able to turn on and off parts of the storyline that follow governance and compliance rules but with several goal-based challenges. Say the user needs to move a specific file to OneDrive for Business in order to go to the next task. Or they could edit certain documents and update them with specific messages through Word Online. Players might be asked to try to access drives that they weren’t allowed to enter through a series of if/then statements in Flow. Of course, having pre-made videos, audio tracks and other items would help to make SharePoint more like a video game.

All the while, the IT admin could alter the script to test a player’s access, ensure compliance, increase user adoption and spend less time educating each user about best practices on their collaboration choices. Admins, through a specialized auditing solution or Delve, might track their progress in the game and offer suggestions later on.

If there are several players, they’d collaborate on finding a hacker in the system through a series of intranet sites, testing permissions, finding O365 tips, looking for files on SP, SPO or OneDrive. All the while, learning how to best use SharePoint.

Admins might have options to choose scenarios that might specifically target regulated industry concerns such as finance or healthcare. Or there could be a test to see if users can identify data as personal healthcare or other sensitive information.

People learn better through games than most other ways. An investment in the gamification of SharePoint 2016 won’t make it a game but it would significantly help organizations in educating its users early in their productivity journey. Until that game is created, we suggest using ControlPoint to ensure that your users and their access are under control.


currently serves as Senior Content Manager at Metalogix. Previously, he's authored or edited content on sites including ZD Net, Deltek, The Washington Post and L-3 Communications. Hunt him down @metalogix and on Facebook.

Written By: Micheal Mullen

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