Digital Transformations Carried Out Through Games

Digital Transformations Carried Out Through Games

Therese Hedman Monstad, Sanna Burman
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1970-7.ch005
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Digital transformations are ubiquitous in today's society. Organisations at all levels and types are challenged by the necessity to relate and adapt their activities to the digital reality of the environment in which they operate. Despite the focus on digitalization, many of the digital transformation projects fail. Organisations are therefore probing for tools that can lead to successful transformations. In this chapter, the authors explore if gamification, here considered a servicescape, may be used to endorse and enhance employees' understanding, engagement, and participation in a digital change process. A qualitative study has been carried out where two organisations' change processes have been explored and gaming experts have been interviewed to give their view of the use of gamification in organisational change processes. The results indicate that gamification may be used to engage and motivate employees to participate in organisational change and hence contribute to successful digital transformation.
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For an extended period of time, digital transformation has been a key aspect for many organisations to relate and adapt to. Westerman, Bonnet and McAfee (2014) argue that the digital development will continue to increase exponentially and that all organisations need to adjust to the new reality to stay alive. Digital innovations have the power to revolutionize the way society acts. But for that to happen, people and organisations need to adopt new technology and way of working. Digital transformation means moving from an analogue and manual way of operating to a digital way of operating. This transformation has been shown to generate gains in both efficiency and productivity if managed right. Most often a digital transformation involves implementing or adapting some type of IT-system or digital tool that changes the operational processes in the organisation. The transformation impacts the processes, routines, structures, strategies, etcetera that coordinates the organisations operations and the actors that drive, execute, and make decisions in the processes. Despite the great number of digital transformations that has been taking place already, approximately 70 percent of all digital transformation projects fail (Iveroth & Hallencreuitz, 2016). The most common mistake is that the main focus is on the technology development. The leaders of the organisations forget the people aspects of the change, that a new digital tool is something that involves human activities just as much as IT (Westerman, Bonnet & McAfee, 2014). The difference in approach can be significant. In order to drive successful change, managers need to focus on organisational members and help them understand and accept the reason behind the change, why the change needs to happen, and why now. In addition, organisational members need to be encouraged to engage and participate in the current change process.

These aspects infer that organisations ought to find new approaches to accomplish digital transformation in order to be successful, and methods that encourage organisational members to adjust their frame of reference in relation to new digital tools and IT-systems, that they interactive with.

The gamification concept, has been gaining ground as a new approach based on the notion that it can help organisations to foster motivation, engagement, learning, and to solve problems (Kapp, 2012). If applied to internal change processes, gamification may impact organisational members’ user experience connected to IT-systems and digital tools. Hence, gamification may be employed to convey messages that influence motivation, attitude, and behaviour. Gamification can, based on this notion, be seen as a conceivable tool in an organisation’s digital transformation. However, gamification as a concept has been criticized for potentially being a manipulating tool (Bogost, 2011; 2014). It is, therefore, important to study the use of gamification in change processes, to see how it can be applied in a way that is not controlling or manipulating.

From a communication perspective, gamification offers a new approach on how communication can be integrated in an organisational change setting. There is little research, however, on the communicative aspects of gamification and how the concept enables a dialogue amongst involved parties. Furthermore, it has been predicted that as much as 80 percent of all gamification projects fail to deliver on sought objectives (Gartner, 2012). Hence, it is vital to further study how the concept is applied and that best practice knowledge is continually collected to build on the overall knowledge of the concept. This chapter presents a study which has explored how gamification, here considered a servicescape, is used as a communication tool, aiming to enable change in regards to organisational members’ motivation, attitudes and/or behaviour and therewith may contribute to organisational change. The study is taking a standpoint in the following research question: How can gamification be used as a servicescape and communication tool in organisational change processes?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Transformations: For organisations, digital transformations involve a move from an analogue to a digital way of operating the business, i.e. the employees' work tasks.

Change Communication: The communication that is taking place before, during and after an organisational change. The focus and topic for the communication is the change process, i.e. how to plan for the change, implement it and finally evaluate the change process.

Storytelling: Storytelling refers to narrative settings, where employees share stories about the organisation with each other. These stories are often anecdotes about happenings and situations in the organisation and they often create emotional connections. Storytelling is considered to have a strong explanatory power and may therefore provide comfort in, for example, situations that are unknown.

Organisational Change Process: The process during which an organization is changing its day-to-day business. This means a more radical change than the changes that ubiquitous take place in the daily work.

Gamification: Gamification means that concepts and techniques, that are used in games, are applied in environments and circumstances that are not part of a gaming situation. In this chapter it means to apply gaming concepts and techniques to help organizational members understand the digital transformation that their organisation is facing.

Sensemaking: In order for employees to be able to participate in a particular change process, they have to understand, i.e. make sense of the situation and the upcoming change process. Sensemaking is facilitated by the opportunity for the employees to discuss the current change amongst each other, ask questions and provide feedback to the ones in charge of the change process.

Servicescape: In this chapter, servicescapes are referred to as the gaming environments in which employees are learning about, and participate in, their organisation's digital transformation.

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