What would you do if you had to explain the value proposition of your industry every time you went to work?
Luckily, for Jim Scullion, CEO of Redwood City, Calif.-based cloud software company Bunchball, consider it ancient history.
“When I started [Scullion joined the gamification platform provider as CEO in 2010] our salespeople had to educate people about gamification,” he says. “Today, they know what it is. They have budget. It may not say, ‘gamification,’ but they have budget in marketing, social media, digital media.”
This whole concept of “gamifying” business processes or consumer-facing operations, which we ran on our cover in May, has continued to score hits with the tech-blog titans as well as the more mainstream of business media – for good reason. It’s because “gamification” works both for the internal enterprise and for consumer-facing objectives. And that means there’s a whole lot more people to sell to. Companies like Bunchball, which got its start in 2005 (and those in a similar space like Badgeville, Hoopla, LevelEleven, etc.) are selling much more than a game – they’re selling ways to motivate people to do what you want them to do – be it your employees or your customers. Bunchball, which counted 250 customers at the end of September, added 125 customers in nine months. Names like Mattel, Bravo, Wendy’s, and Nuance and Marketo on the enterprise side. For Scullion, the future of Bunchball is bright. Here are excerpts of our conversation:
What’s the fastest-growth area for Bunchball?
Scullion: We’re focused in on the large enterprise, and so how we go to market is we have two segments we go after. Consumer-facing, which are all the media and entertainment publishers that want to engage their audience, and they leverage us and our platform to do that. We are going in a big way into what we call the ‘engaged enterprise’ (sales organization, service desk, etc.) The trend is toward 50-50 of the business right now consumer vs. enterprise, and the engaged enterprise will continue to grow as a percentage.
Can you describe an enterprise use-case for gamification?
Scullion: We’re doing a deal with Cisco where we have built a sales incentive program with Maritz, the loyalty and motivation company. We are incentivizing the Cisco channel partners to be much more knowledgeable about Cisco products and incentivize them to sell Cisco over the competition, and really have greater product knowledge about the Cisco brand than anyone else. That’s going to be something like 50,000 resellers and 350,000 salespeople. If you take the enterprise and you put them in buckets—sales force automation being one, and let’s call Salesforce.com the leader in that space. Building a module into what we’ll call an application on top of theirs. The user experience looks the same, but you’re actually doing missions and challenges, and sharing comments and blogs and downloading of information, and passing it on to your social network, and then the sales ops people are trying to drive them to take certain actions so that they’re uploading the right data into Salesforce.com. They’re forecasting more accurately. They’re hitting their quotas earlier because they’re rewarding them to hit on a monthly basis. It drives high-value actions.
Is there disparity between monetary incentive and an incentive rooted in competition alone?
Scullion: In some cases, in the social collaboration software space, it’s about reputation and providing and creating a bigger knowledge base and people being recognized for their contributions to that knowledge base. So it is really important that they’re engaged, that they’re reading information, downloading information, sharing their knowledge…so that use case is specific to what you want to accomplish in social collaboration. [But say you're using] Salesforce.com and you want to drive salespeople to become high-performers or hit quota.You can do that through individual missions, challenges, and rewards…or you do it through group [incentivizing.] At the end of the day, if you can sit down and have lunch with Marc Benioff, or get a set of tailor-made drivers or be part of a president’s club, that’s motivating.
We saw Bunchball just announce an out-of-the-box integration for SugarCRM. What else can we expect?
Scullion: What you will find in the next platform [release slated in the first quarter] is a whole new user experience with the admin-the console, the analytics, and you’ll see some advanced analytics and predictive modeling on how you can influence people’s performance. The analytics piece will continue to be enhanced each quarter. We believe we’ve built the best model of scalable applications on top of enterprise software. You can sell those over and over again. They’re scalable, repeatable. Whereas, if you’re building a new, unique experience for every customer to engage their audience, you can’t grow a business fast. I’m very excited about growing our strategy to build these off-the-shelf applications that can be sold over and over again by our inside sales force.”