By Ben Wightwick at HighQ Solutions
Gamification as a concept isn’t new and is something I have written about before within the context of LegalIT. To be honest, it still doesn’t have a great reputation or traction within the enterprise, let alone within legal. It’s a concept with very few real world examples of how it could affect our daily lives. Despite this, I can see it making an impact in Legal IT in the next 2-3 years.
So how could it improve the use of technology inside a law firm and what could it mean for law firms clients? Gamification is defined in Wikipedia as ‘the integration of game mechanics or game dynamics into a website, service, community, campaign, or application in order to drive participation and engagement.’ A recent Gartner study, states Gamification will be used by 70% of the Global 2000 by 2015, with over $1.6Bn spent on related products, services and technologies. Those of you who have LinkedIn profiles will have already been ‘encouraged’ to complete your profile which is a type of gamification. And if you check-in on Foursquare and achieve badges for new locations, this is gamification.
So how does this affect law firms and the Legal IT vendors? At the moment it doesn’t, but I think it should. It certainly won’t make boring tasks less boring, it won’t help awful user interface (UI) and immediately improve user experiences (UX), which are common, but it can provide shared vision and objectives for leaderless groups or groups spread across the globe. I think it will influence legalIT vendors to design their software more intuitively and emphasise collaboration and ultimately humanise and empower staff. Generally when people think of gamification they think of achieving inconsequential ‘badges’ when tasks are complete, but it doesn’t have to be like that at all. Why not build out the concept of a virtual currency, which can be earned against a pre-defined collection of tasks collected by a team or department, which in turn could be used against a corporate shopping list, whether that is a team lunch or a drinks trolley on a Friday evening?
Why not target the #1 enterprise bugbear, Email? Applying some game mechanics in the UX around things like the number of emails in your inbox, size of your inbox, speed of reply, total filed in to Filesite, coupled with some simple benchmarking would enable you to see how you compare to your colleagues and potentially achieve a long time objective of your IT dept, reducing your email capacity. It also wouldn’t be hard to associate a little gamification to the client & matter inception process or the matter management process within a law firm. Traditionally the client and matter inception process is a ball ache, with screens of tick boxes and information to fill in. Due to regulatory requirements, this isn’t going to change dramatically but why not incentivise completing the process accurately and in its entirety first time round?
The legal industry is currently in its biggest transformational shift for a generation and technology is playing a big part in that. Legal technology has to change its focus from the law firm to it’s clients, it has to adapt and become more collaborative, more social and the traditional legal technology vendors are going struggling to deliver upon this expectation. Is gamification too far for legal? The answer is probably yes for now, but look beyond LegalIT for the trends that are circling enterpirse technology, look out for gamification success stories as well as the failures as I certainly don’t think it is going away.
One thing to add and whilst this article might be shinning a positive light on the promise of gamification, it is obviously not a silver bullet and won’t fix all your organisations issues. But if the only thing that happens is that the UX is improved then that’s a good thing right? I think the power of game mechanics could drive behavior change in the law firm technology platforms of the future or am I completely bonkers?
Ben blends over seven years legal technology experience with an expert eye for business analysis, project management and product management. He has been with HighQ since October 2011 and has since worked with numerous law firms around the HighQ product set alongside other consulting engagements.