The Gamification of Manufacturing

Lionel Grealou CRM Digital Manufacturing 3 minutes

Image credit: minecraft

Gamification is about amplifying the effect of an existing, core experience by applying the motivational techniques that make games so engaging. It taps into the basic desires and needs of the users impulses which revolve around the idea of status and achievement

Gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to enhance user experience.

In many non-game related industries, like in the manufacturing sector, gamification can transform business models by creating new ways to extend relationships, craft longer-term engagement, while drive customer and employee satisfaction and loyalty. This principle also applies to product development. Obviously, manufacturing organisations are already using web-based social networking platforms for product developmentworkflow managementand extended enterprise collaboration. There are smarter ways to bring these to the next level and facilitate both innovation and the introduction of change.

A growing number of organisations are adopting gaming techniques and game-style rewards in order to motivate and incentivise employees and customers.

Gartner, 2011

Beyond the hype of gamification, what’s in it for product development, manufacturing and, in that context, how are Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and Customer eXperience Management (CXM) solutions contributing toward better user and customer experience?

It is often said that CXM systems enable a ‘single system of truth’ about the customer, while PLM provides a ‘single system of record’ about products across the product lifecycle. At the intersection of these systems are accelerated revenues, higher profits and improved customer satisfaction. This is achieved through CXM-PLM integration in helping functions as diverse as engineering, sales and marketing, manufacturing, quality and field support to be more customer or user-centric.

  • Requirements management: what do the customers want and how is the ‘voice of the customer‘ included into the product development process, what are the market attributes, how are requirements cascaded and validated, how are requirements incorporated into products in a globally outsourced design and manufacturing environment?
  • Product lifecycle configuration: how is the end product managed throughout its lifecycle, how is product complexity managed, how are the product engineering and manufacturing configuration managed, how are are requirements change-managed?
  • Product service and improvement: how are product issues tracked and resolved, what are the warranty implications and how are they managed, how are service updates communicated with the customers, how are quality matters feedback into the product development and manufacturing processes, how is compliance managed?

In environments where people are already sharing and linking to each other, like in the engineering and manufacturing environment, gamification is a natural fit. This can translate in a communication and realtime reporting platform where users are competing against each other for points, or badges or to be recognised as a super user or a leader. Status is clearly visible, so even when users are not competing against each other, there is still incentive to achieve common and individual target outcomes.

Gamification can be used to improve quantitative metrics and processes that are quite iterative (or even agile) by design. Organisational culture plays a critical role in determining what scope to focus on and what game mechanics to use. Providing better contextual information gives employees, users, suppliers the tools they need to be more productive. Qualitative metrics might benefit less from gamification than quantitative metrics…

Gamification has great potential to enhance manufacturing processes and customer support, but might be more difficult to derive value in context of engineering and design.

One can imagine how gamification can help introduce new communication approaches and education practices, get end users motivated, involved and engaged, and ultimately lead to reducing cultural barriers to change. There is still a lot to experiment and learn about how it can be applied to product creation, innovation, and manufacturing, where both qualitative and quantitative factors are important.

What are your thoughts?

This post was originally published on LinkedIn on 16 May 2016.

About the Author

Lionel Grealou


Lionel Grealou, a.k.a. Lio, helps original equipment manufacturers transform, develop, and implement their digital transformation strategies—driving organizational change, data continuity and process improvement, managing the lifecycle of things across enterprise platforms, from PDM to PLM, ERP, MES, PIM, CRM, or BIM. Beyond consulting roles, Lio held leadership positions across industries, with both established OEMs and start-ups, covering the extended innovation lifecycle scope, from research and development, to engineering, discrete and process manufacturing, procurement, finance, supply chain, operations, program management, quality, compliance, marketing, etc.

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