Game Over! Gamification and the CIO

Congratulations to the winner of the CIO Superhero Game!

The first to complete the challenge and become “Super CIO” was Brad Ton of Reindeer Auto Relocation. He was presented with an AWESOME Trophy to display proudly in his office. To win, Mr. Ton had to defeat five evil henchmen and the arch enemy of CIOs everywhere, Complacent IT Guy. 20141029_073410.jpg

So what is this craziness about CIO Superheroes? Just my dorky way of introducing another one of the challenges impacting the CIO today...Gamification.


Gamification, the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage people (players) in solving problems.

According to Bunchball, one of the leading firms in applying gamification to business processes, gamification is made up of two major components. The first is game mechanics - things like points, leaderboards, challenges levels - the pieces that make game playing fun, engaging, and challenging. In other words, the elements that create competition. The second component is game dynamics - things like rewards, achievement, and a sense of competition.

Games are everywhere. People love to compete and people love to play games. What does this have to do with the role of CIO?


Want to improve customer engagement? Make it a game! Want employees to embrace a new process? Make it a game! Want to improve performance? Make it a game! Add game mechanics and game dynamics into the next app you are building, layer them on an existing application, and put them in the next process improvement initiative.

Even sites like the Intel IT Peer Network use game theory to increase engagement. You earn points for all kinds of activity, which might include logging in multiple times, using searches to find content or posting a blog. I find it interesting that while these points earn you badges and levels, they actually offer minimal intrinsic value. Nevertheless, I found myself disappointed during a recent systems upgrade to have my points reset to zero. Alas, I am an Acolyte again!

Now, back to the CIO Superhero Game.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview our Superhero CIO winner. Here are just a few of his thoughts surrounding gamification. smallish_CIOHero.png

What caught your attention enough to want to play the game?

“I really thought that Twitter was a very unique way to play a game.  It was not something I had ever done before.  I’m a frequent reader of all of your writings, so I knew I was in for a learning experience if anything else.  I’m a Twitter addict, so I felt comfortable diving into the CIO world even as someone not extremely knowledgeable on the topic.  Frankly, I’d rather have an hour long dentist appointment than read an instruction manual.  This was easily accessible – right at my fingertips and very self-explanatory.”

Games can engage, games can inspire, games can teach. What is the most important lesson you learned from playing the game?

“While I never truly understood the intricacies of being a CIO, I always appreciated the hard work and dedication it took to get to such a prestigious level.  After going through the CIO Superhero game, I can honestly say that I now genuinely respect it.  The passion behind the game was something I enjoyed.  It wasn’t a bland exercise built with little thought or substance.  I could feel that the game was designed to teach and help grow others into not only understanding new topics previously unknown – but to inspire them into being pro-active in sharing & creating their own ideas.   That is when you know you have something special.  More than the topics themselves, the passion behind what the game was meant to do is what was really able to draw me in.”   

You are not a CIO yourself, do you think gamification of a process would work in your business, and if so, can you give an example?

“Any tool that can supply a different approach to creating a better understanding of a current process is always worth the attempt.  I also think the concept of Gamification is able to provide a different perspective, which can spark new ways to think about old processes. Implementing gamification could highlight the variables within our industry that can, in turn, allow for a more personable approach.  Cost, scheduling, bookings…logistics are important, but the game tailored to our industry could be much more personal and deal directly with relationships of all parties involved in a relocation. Whereas, a typical goal would be to complete an on-time relocation with small out-of-pocket costs, the game’s primary objective would be to receive positive feedback from customers, clients, etc.   Yes, on-time and small cost could equate to this outcome, but not always.  “Defeat the evil henchmen” by coming up with a new idea to improve customer service, for instance.  By defining the game’s objectives from a relationship standpoint, you can spark new and creative ways of thinking.”

So, there you have it.

Gamification - just another element within the myriad of changes impacting the CIO today. It truly is a "game" changer that can increase adoption and engagement across a variety of businesses and processes.

This is a continuation of a series of posts titled “The CIO is Dead! Long Live the CIO!” looking at the confluence of changes impacting the CIO and IT leadership. #CIOisDead. Next up “Faster than a speeding bullet - The Speed of Change”.

Jeffrey Ton is the SVP of Corporate Connectivity and Chief Information Officer for Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana, providing vision and leadership in the continued development and implementation of the enterprise-wide information technology and marketing portfolios, including applications, information & data management, infrastructure, security and telecommunications.

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Jeff Ton

About Jeff Ton

Throughout his career in business, Jeffrey Ton has developed and fine tuned his leadership skills to become a business focused leader who drives results. Extending the role of the CIO to encompass a strategic view of the business, he identifies innovative approaches to achieve the business objectives by leveraging technology where and when appropriate. Adept at building and leading teams, both in-line and cross-organizational, he has been a catalyst for change across the businesses he has served. Ton has industry expertise in information technology, non-profits, commercial real estate development, manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, supply chain, green/clean technologies, finance, insurance and consulting. Expertise: • Strategic Planning – Business & Technology • Organization & Management Reengineering • Merger & Acquisition Integration • Divestiture Decoupling • Business & IT Alignment • Enterprise Architecture Strategy • C-level Relationships • International Staff Management & Acquisition • Global Enterprise Implementations • Fiscal Management • Governance & Risk Management • Business Process Optimization • Vendor Relationship Management • Outsourcing(Offshore/Near-shore) & In-sourcing • Technology Portfolio Management • Regulatory and Compliance Management • P&L Management Specialties: Architecture, infrastructure, applications, application development, telecom, e-Business strategy, web development, knowledge management, integration, EDI, SAP, business intelligence, outsourcing, insourcing, contract negotiation, commercial real estate development, manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, supply chain, green/clean technologies, finance, insurance and consulting, keynote speaker on leadership, green and other topics, LEED AP BD+C. Read his blog on, Intel's IT Peer Network and LinkedIn.