Gamify your product or service to drive user engagement

Many ideas fail in the marketplace, even if they come from leading innovators such as Google or Amazon. Consider using the market insight to ideate for everything around customer experience – packaging, delivery, pricing, support, and now gamification.

Early Market Engagement

Early market engagement is a strategic exchange of information with the market. You’ve built the minimum viable product (MVP) and ready to test with some early adopters or beta users. It is imperative to keep in mind that the product at this stage is just a bunch of ideas, assumptions and some data. It is pretty much all invention and creativity. Taking it to the market to create value for consumers and to generate revenue will potentially make it an innovation. You need to work through various aspects for it to be sticky in the marketplace. 

Consumers care how they receive products and services. The product delivery model includes, packing, shipping, handling, setup, training, etc. and all that happens between the product leaving the manufacturer/retailer and buyer using it. Service delivery is a lot about transactional experience, communication, ambiance, and handling of an unhappy customer.

Consumers have varied perception of value received. Business model is about setting the price, payment terms and billing, sell vs lease vs subscription, financing options, warranties, returns, trial period, bundling, and now mobile engagement…

Market positioning is making the customer think about your product through advertisements and social media. Naming and tag lines are probably the difficult ones but have significant impact.

Market testing is when the manufacturer/developer wants to get an early indication of how the product or service will be received and accepted by the end-user. It might include focus groups, beta tester, pilot programs, and even up to the first few customers providing feedback.

As an innovator, we must also think of how to support the product in service and at the end of its useful life. What are the possible business models, in terms of ability to service, recycle, salvage? …

Product Packaging to improve Consumer Engagement

Packaging is no longer just a box. Almost every consumer product invests heavily in innovation in packaging. There are so many examples of packaging innovation to capture market share. Toothpaste companies reduced vanity shelf space by making broad caps and going stand up mode. Pomegranate and lemon juice are packaged in bottles that look just like the fruit by shape and color to make it easily recognizable and to give the feel of the real thing. Plastic water bottles are shaped to reduce plastic materials and handling. Ketchup caps and nozzles were designed so that they do not drip.

The box for Amazon Kindle oasis and Google Pixel Buds double up as chargers.  Cardboard box for a 12-can-pack went from 4×3 to a 6×2 for ease of stacking in the refrigerator, and then a designer cut to create a dispenser. Many small electronic products use packaging to act as transportation, handling, shelf display, marketing, … purposes as well.

Service Delivery to enhance Customer Experience

The service industry is highly competitive as well. Coffee shops, aircraft interior, sports bars, amusement parks, holiday resorts, etc. go all out to make the experience memorable for you. They are all very innovative about creating customer experience through novelty, thrill, comfort, ambiance, security, safety, sanitization, etc. which are all of value to consumers.

Gamification to build Consumer and Employee Engagement

Think about how to turn your service or product into a game-like experience. It is easier said than done. In product design and development, we can focus on user needs and goals to deliver meaningful experiences people value. Every goal has a motivation, and the key is to develop ways to help motivate people to reach their goals. What better way to motivate people than in a way that is engaging, rewarding, grounded in behavioral science, and even a little bit of fun for them to learn, explore, and use? All the while continuously giving them reasons to engage with your product.

The five principles of gamification are …

principles of gamification
  1. Autonomy: Urge to direct our own lives (I want to control).
  2. Mastery: Desire to get better (I want to improve).
  3. Purpose: Yearning to be a part of something larger than ourselves (I want to make a difference).
  4. Progress:  Desire to see results associated with mastery and purpose (I want to achieve).
  5. Social Interaction:  Need to belong, be connected to, recognized by, and interact with others (I want to engage others).

Take eBay as a prime example. Buyers and sellers rate each other. The more they buy, sell, and accumulate good ratings on the platform, the higher they rank in the community. Their ranking is represented with status flair, i.e. Power Seller, Trusted Seller etc., on their profiles and listings to build marketplace prominence and garner buyer and seller confidence.

For more learning, read Innovation Value Chain

Just One Skill That Matters?

Just One Skill That Matters

There is only one skill that matters.

Really? It is the skill to develop new skills all the time, quickly.

Will industry 4.0 kill our jobs?

This is the most popular question in our panel discussions on this topic. My response is usually as follows.

“History has proven that all previous revolutions have created new higher-paying jobs, reduced the number of working hours, improved productivity and prosperity. People who were worried about jobs, and companies that were slow to adapt to the change paid the big price. We have come down from a 7-day workweek before the first industrial revolution to 5-days. I can foresee a 4-day workweek by the time we are all digitally transformed.”

… pause…

“I have lived through the 3rd revolution. My freshman engineering was using log tables, I got a calculator in Sophomore, and saw the first computer as a senior in 1985. When computers came to India, we had serious nationwide social protests, against the Prime Minister’s move to bring the technology. It was perceived as a job-killer. Most of my friends and their parents disliked my excitement with the toys. Our college took a student account at the very first computer center in the city and each one of us was given 5 minutes of CPU time on the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)’s PDP-10 mainframe. My allocated 5 minutes were used up within a week and then I borrowed minutes from those who were busy protesting against the computers. Today the whole economy of the country (India) and many other nations is because of the IT skills.” 

… pause …

“You see, it is not a jobs question. It is a competency question. Your skills will go obsolete. You need to reskill, you need to retool, you need to relearn. To confidently try new things and new ways of doing something is the most important trait. So, don’t worry about the jobs. There will be plenty more. Worry about developing the competencies and knowledge for the jobs that will be available.”

Traditional trade skills will have to embrace the entry of new skills – some multidisciplinary blend of Digitalization, Automation, Data Scientists, Machine Learning, Machine Communication, Man-Machine interface, Additive Manufacturing, and new ones every few years. The role of data scientists is already picking up. These are specialists who will extract and prepare data, conduct advanced analysis, and apply their findings to improve products or production.

Traditional soft skills will have a higher focus on complex problem solving (identification), creativity, open mind, critical thinking, teamwork and transparency, decision making under uncertainty, robotics supervision, and more. I can see a role for a full-time Fictioneer, Ideation facilitator, Concept artist, …

Job Descriptions are dying

If you can describe your job in sufficient detail, it will soon be replaced by a robot. You need to focus on talent that can bring intellectual capability and adaptability to meet Job Expectations. Simple tasks are being taken over by robots and shop floors are getting digital. Humans now need to oversee humans and cobots together. Perhaps we will see robots supervising other robots and then humans, sooner than we think. And let us add artificial intelligence or intelligence augmentation to the mix. We now have a whole new set of challenges with talent management.

If you consider the scope of digital skills required, universities will have a difficult time adjusting. In one of my recent conversations with a University Dean, I asked him how they will adapt when their curriculum revision cycle is 3-year, because very soon the content obsolescence period will be shorter than three years. I think Industry will take charge and not rely on university degree programs.

Focus is also shifting from graduate-level college degrees to rapid certification and creating relevant competency just in time and in place. Augmented reality-based training or job instructions might further diminish the value of formal classroom trainings. From an industry perspective, HR may not be able to handle the retraining, because of scope and content. Chief Technology Officer (CTO) may have to take this one on. There will be room for new types of colleges and academies to develop talent for the digital requirements.

Creativity can be learned, it is a practiced art. A whole library of how-to books has already been written on the theme. Some of the books are better than others, but they all focus on a couple of central ideas: be open to new things, ask questions, doodle around, and create ‘firsts.’

According to the BCG[1] employees will need to shift their focus to the things machines so far can’t do, will have to be more open to change, possess greater flexibility to adapt to new roles and working environments, and become accustomed to continuous interdisciplinary learning.

The global pandemic is demonstrating the need for resiliency skills. Businesses surviving in 2020s will be those where the organizations are flexible, adaptive, and agile; constantly analyzing and adjusting. Employers might look for such skills as a requirement in the near future. These skills are not easy to teach or learn.

In Summary,

To pick up a new skill on demand is the most important skill.

Ability to do the job that cannot be described clearly, is what will keep you in the job.

If you like this blog post, you will like my book – “Inspiring Next Innovation Mindset” available on Amazon.

If you wish to engage with me in a conversation, on important innovation topic, please register for our monthly sessions at

[1] Man and Machine in Industry 4.0; M Lorenz, R Strack, K Lueth, & M Bolle; BCG Report; ; Sept 28, 2015.

What Might be the Next Revolution?

Oh Really?

We have defined the digital-physical integration as Industry 4.0. We have seen advances in digital-biological systems and also the biological-physical systems. Is it time for Digital-Physical-Biological confluence to create a whole new world?

Next Revolution

The Four Industrial Revolutions

Over the last three centuries, humanity has seen significant change in lifestyle, driven by three industrial revolutions. Currently, we are going through the fourth revolution. Briefly

The first industrial revolution brought a change from handcrafted forms of production to the mechanization of production with steam engines or regenerative energy sources such as water.

The second industrial revolution triggered by electric power, enabled new industries and mechanical production engineering. We mastered the control of physical materials and products.

The third industrial revolution came from development of computers, which allowed automated control of industrial production and revolutionized data processing. We mastered the digital space.

In the fourth industrial revolution, we are beginning to harness the potential of digital physical integration. A good example of the digital physical integration is a self-driving car. The car gathers the data from multiple cameras and sensors to determine its position, velocity, and separation to other cars. It uses the data in real time to take physical actions with an intent to reach the destination without collision or discomfort. A similar change is happening in industrial manufacturing and maintenance. In addition, there is a growing desire to make these cyber-physical systems learn from experience, adopt to variation in inputs, make select decisions, and act autonomously to accomplish an objective.

The Next Revolution

This is another form of confluence that has been emerging slowly but steadily. For many decades we have seen significant advancement in physical-biological systems such as prostheses and implants – artificial substitutes for body parts, nanomaterials, nanobiotechnology, biosensors, and bionics.

There is a serious research effort in the field of digital-biological systems such as Biocomputers which use biologically derived molecules, such as DNA and proteins, to perform digital or real computations. And now we are advancing the technologies to 3D printing of skin and organs.

Bringing Biology into the digital-physical systems of the fourth industrial revolution could usher in a next revolution – governed by digital-physical-biological confluence for purpose. We just do not know what that would look like. But we have some early indications of various use cases.

Intelligent Implants[1] is at the forefront of electrotherapeutic devices to treat disease and aid recovery in bone and other tissues. They pioneer the use of data, engineering, and biologics to bring novel, active and connected medical devices to healthcare. Their integrated devices facilitate treatment for the patient, as well as decision making for the healthcare professional.

A quadriplegic racer Rodrigo Hübner Mendes[2] was the first person ever to drive an F1 car using a sensor studded cap over his head that could pick up his brain activity to drive the car, in 2017.

Neuralink[3] is pushing the boundaries of innovation in neural engineering. They are designing the first neural implant that will let you control a computer or mobile device anywhere you go.

Global Human Body Models Consortium[4] (GHBMC) of seven automakers and one supplier have been consolidating their individual research and development activities in human body modeling into a single global effort to advance crash safety technology since 2006. These computers models have significant derivative applications in sports, aerospace, healthcare, wearables, forensics, and military as posted on social media by the author[5] in 2016. A private company Elemance[6] continues to develop and serve this applied innovation in form of proven, validated, finite element human body models, ready for simulation environments.

A combination of human body digital twin, understanding of genetics, and opportunity to 3D print organs opens serious opportunities in longevity, quality of life, and questions around ethics, hard to answer at this stage.

In Summary,

In some sense all sorts of combination of human-machine integration are on the horizon, not just artificial limbs and biocomputers. That would be an era of cyber-physical-biological confluence. And it could be very revolutionary.

Will his be the next revolution? what do you think?

If you like this blog post, you will like our monthly conversations on Innovation. You are invited to join by registering at

For a dedicated session for your company, please reach out to Ripi Singh directly.


[2] EMOTIV x Rodrigo Hubner Mendes – Driving F1 car just by thinking, Aug 18, 2017. 



[5] CAE in Bio-Mechanics – Imagine Next? Ripi Singh, May 4, 2016,


Has anyone ever built muscles by taking a tour of the gym?


Bringing innovation into an organization culture is like building a mental muscle. You cannot learn it online or through watching panel discussions amongst thought leaders. It requires sustained effort for long period of time, and painful learning.

Has anyone ever built muscles by taking a tour of the gym

Basic Physics behind an Organizational Behavior

Organizations seem to follow some basic principles of physics. For example

  • Friction: Opposing force resisting relative motion.
  • Inertia: Tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.
  • Gravity: Left to themselves, unsupported objects will fall to the ground.
  • Energy: The capacity for doing work.
  • Momentum: Impetus gained by a moving object.

When an individual or a team tries to get innovative, to change a process or product, essentially trying to move it from its current state to a different state; it encounters both friction and inertia. The team has to put in a lot of energy to get it moving, and to build and sustain the momentum.

Overcoming Inertia and Friction

Organizations have inertia and internal friction that will hold them back from a successful positive transition. But, if you can build momentum through proper infusion of energy, you can make a lasting enterprise-wide change.

Start by sending the right message to the 13% early adaptors, and they will join the 3% innovators already working in that direction. The 34% of early majority will need some kind of objective and training to follow through. The 34% late majority would need incentives and tangible rewards in addition to the objectives and capability training. Never mind the last 16% laggards and CAVE people, they will find a different role.

Building Momentum

In Volume-3, we discussed 4 tracks of activities to build an innovation profile. Consistent execution will help build the momentum.  Leadership needs to think of the following steps as a wheel

  1. Be clear about the Innovation Purpose, and the vision of success.
  2. Create, communicate, and use the two sheets of music, the Innovation Strategy (Roadmap), and the Dashboard to track the progress.
  3. Build the Innovation Capital, by investing in talent and know-how.
  4. Inspire talent to engage in Innovation Activity to realize the roadmap.
  5. Keep Innovation Lean by aligning people, products, and markets.
  6. Recognize and reward teams for performance and learnings.
  7. Update the roadmap and dashboard annually and go back to step 2.

Keep rotating this flywheel and build a momentum that would be hard to stop. Purpose, strategy, and rewards provide the willingness to innovate. Capital and activities build the capability. Lean reduces internal friction. Collectively, they build the culture of innovation, over a few years. It is a mental muscle.

Just like a few workout sessions at the local gym won’t build your body muscle, a few successful projects won’t build the mental muscle of your organization. You will have to go through many projects, over the years, and slowly change the basic behavior. I get into conversations with senior leaders who think that a 2-day workshop on ideation or innovation is all they need, and after that, it will happen on its own. A 2-day workshop is just like taking a tour of the gym.

Lesson from the Coronavirus Pandemic

In March 2020, within 2 weeks, America went from business as usual to a complete stop, except essential services. The markets were shutdown, social distancing put in force, almost everyone working from home, no more parties, weddings postponed, no access to beaches, bars, or nightlife. The level of change that would normally take a decade was visible in a blink of an eye. Situation updates and restrictions were being brought into the workforce by the hour. What was at stake? Life. No one asked you to think or act Out of the Box. Your box was just crushed by the tiniest invisible life form, leaving everyone scrambling to find a new box to think in. Innovation was seen all across from primary life-saving equipment, to communication, to support structure. Innovation was not a struggle at all. Organizational leadership was open to all sorts of ideas to keep their employees safe and the business afloat. They were willing to quick test, follow any successful option, and learn.

Where did that innovation muscle strength came from? Life saving rush of Adrenaline!

In Summary,

There are many reasons, excuses, and myths about why innovation does not succeed. I concur with Bill Fischer that it never gets started or supported by leadership even if it starts. The primary struggle is a leadership mindset, which slowly erodes employee morale to innovate. In some sense companies have successfully managed to promote productivity performers to the leadership roles, putting innovators and innovation on the back seat. Will the pandemic change that? Will it mark the start of an innovator’s era with a very different form of struggle, the struggle to let innovators lead, for a while.

If you like this blog post, you will like my book series “Inspiring Next Innovation ….” available on Amazon and summarized in these book launch webinars on YouTube.

For Leaders –

Inspiring Next Innovation Purpose,

Available on Amazon Watch on YouTube                               

For Innovators –

Inspiring Next Innovation Value Chain,

Available on Amazon Watch on YouTube  

For Managers –

Inspiring Next Innovation Framework,

Available on Amazon Watch on YouTube     

For Leaders –

Inspiring Next Innovation Mindset,

Available on Amazon Watch on YouTube

To engage with the author – please register for upcoming virtual sessions.