Ashok Leyland Uses Gamification to Bring Business Closer to IT

It isn't easy being an automobile manufacturer such as Ashok Leyland. Being the maker of the country's first CNG bus and the developer of the first hybrid electric vehicle -- innovation is the fuel that their business runs on. The teams at Ashok Leyland do not deviate from their core company ethos.

In keeping with the tradition, Venkatesh Natarajan, VP-IT at Ashok Leyland was looking for that little wave of innovation that would help him build better products for business. After a recent meeting with one lines of business head, it stuck him that IT needs to find a more intuitive method to collect requirements from the business.

"In any organization, business users are like field troops, and IT provides air support. Therefore, we are always in a quest to find a way to arm these users with IT tools such that they can do their work better," explains Natarajan.

However, collecting requirements from business to build these tools isn't easy. It results in situation where 'what IT builds is not what business wants.' To bridge this disconnect, the company decided to 'gamify' the entire process.

Research firm Gartner defines gamification as the use of game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goal. In Ashok's Leyland's case -- "the goal was to market IT solutions better to business," says Natarajan.

In a two-day workshop organized by a four-member IT team at Ashok Leyland's regional office in Kolkata, a total of 25 field executives from various sub functions under sales and marketing, services, were handpicked to actively engage in a gamification concept known as Speed Boat.

Each player was given a paper boat that represented the final IT solution and its anchors were represented by four main categories namely information, process, empowerment, and technology--used to classify the different issues raised by them.

For instance, if IT were to build an app for the company's field force, they must list down the issues they face and the kind of functionalities in the app that could improve their productivity or efficiency. The IT team grouped them into six different teams and got a mixed bag of issues.

On the second day, the teams were regrouped again and they were asked to refine their list of issues (without redundancies) per category. A total of 150 issues (including duplicates between groups) were collected by the IT team whose job was to choose and prioritize from the list based on IT's availability of resources.

To make this fun and interesting, each of the teams had to bid from a final list of requirements. Each commodity was valued at 300 rupees and an amount of 4500 rupees worth of fake currency were given to each team. "We restricted the total number of requirements they could bid for to 15," said Natarajan. At the end of two days, IT cultivated a polished list of 75 business requirements.

"With the help of gamification, we brought in a cost culture within the organization and sensitized business users about the different costs involved in building an IT solution," said Natarajan.

Going forward, Natarajan will continue using the gamification concept on a selective basis. "Gamification has made the requirements-gathering process interactive, collaborating, and engaging for the user and it has helped us get on the same page with business," said Natarajan.


Shubhra Rishi

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