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

Managing Risk in an Innovation Project – Part 2

Managing Risk in an Innovation Project

Can you see the role of human factors in a gate review?

Really? In spite of a well-defined stage-gate process for managing innovation, projects that deserve to be discontinued (fail-fast) pass through the gates and fail-late, causing huge losses and sometimes the entire business.  After all gate-keepers are human, and subject to emotional interference.

Suggest reading part-1 at Managing Risk in an Innovation Project

What Makes a Stage-Gate Process Interesting?

Like any organizational system, the gated process does not always work as intended. It is a highly emotional event, irrespective of objectivity designed in the process. Let us look at some of the issues that make it interesting.


One must ask a question if a given project is right for stage-gate process or not? Sethi and Iqbal[1] argue that Stage-Gate controls have the potential of restricting learning in a new product development project and thus hurting the performance of novel new products. They specifically observed through data, that control on new product development exercised through rigorous gate review criteria, increases project inflexibility, which in turn leads to increased failure to learn.

Success Metrics

Sometimes, the management chooses a metric around increasing the first pass yield of gated reviews. That is not a good practice. It drives many wrong behaviors: (a) a tendency to pick low-risk ideas/projects to begin with, (b) to keep working to perfection, and (c) the review team’s bias towards a ‘GO’ outcome. That is all counter to innovation and the purpose of a gated review. You want to fail fast and learn fast. It is OK to track, but do not set a goal for yield.

Schedule pressure creates a tendency at compromise marginal situations, sometimes take decision with insufficient data or under-estimate the risk.  And if there is a sense of urgency or a need to meet a certain specific performance metric, the entire interpretation of the data gets skewed.  

Human Bias

Decision making at the gate review gets effected by bias from various directions. The reviewers can get emotionally vested with the idea and progress based on watching it evolve with their input at previous gates. Experience creates an anchor bias to previous success stories and traditional ways of doing things. Trying to keep the big boss happy, can sway decisions in one direction. Opinions of certain well recognized individuals carries more weight than data-based evidence. 

Individual biases also play a role in team dynamics, if the review team chair is not able to handle conflict.

Delicate Engagement

Continuous engagement of review team with the project, even when limited to reviews, leads to a 2-way entanglement. The project team learns how the review team thinks and develops ways to influence the outcome of the gate review. The review team gets empathically attached to the project (& team) and bias towards their earlier feedback. Since the gate committee is not a machine devoid of emotions and biases (yet), they will find it incredibly hard to stop or kill a project in line with the changing PESTEL landscape. It is thus important to bring back a higher authority at later stage gates into the review mix, who were involved in the original approval of the project and can objectively look at the project against the original success criterion. 

Personal Insecurity

A gated process often comes across as a threat to career progression or job security. Managers feel uncomfortable at the idea of a No-Go outcome. Management must foster a project team environment of mutual trust and cooperation, an environment that is low on personal conflict, power struggles, surprises, unrealistic demands, and threats to personal and professional integrity. After effects should not include unnecessary inferences to performance appraisals, tight supervision, restriction of personal freedom and autonomy, and overhead requirements.

In Summary,

The stage-gate process is designed to minimize cost and risk of innovation project through synergy and alignment of expectations. The well-defined process (a) Identifies the makeup of a review team and lays out the decision criteria upfront, (b) Provides a forum and timing to discuss and approve any scope changes, (c) Clarifies and adapts the roles & responsibilities during execution, (d) Facilitates informed decision making for the continuation of the project based on the availability of resources, business case, and risk analysis, (e) Identifies intellectual property and other business protection needs. However, for the process to deliver to its promise effectively, the organization must deliberately create an environment of healthy conflict at the Gate reviews. The review team must be

  • Competent to make the right decisions, despite the emotional attachment with concept,
  • Empowered to judge and stop or redirect a project, despite business pressures, and
  • Objective to minimize bias and emotional interference.

Good gate reviews are a work of art and science.

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

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[1] Stage-Gate Controls, Learning Failure, and Adverse Effect on Novel New Products, Rajesh Sethi and Zafar Iqbal, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 72, No. 1 (Jan., 2008), pp. 118-134 (17 pages)

Is it time for Industry 5.0?

Oh Really?

While most of us are still getting our hands around the fourth industrial revolution, we occasionally come across terms Industry 5.0 as return of the human touch or human-machine reconciliation or an attempt to address shortcomings of the fourth revolution. What do you think?

The Four Industrial Revolutions

Over the last three centuries, humanity has seen significant change in lifestyle, driven by three industrial revolutions. At this time in our history, 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 advent of automation, and artificial intelligence has created a general misconception that Industry 4.0 will make humans redundant. We think, it moves humanity to engage in more fulfilling and meaningful activities and take all sorts of repetitive hard work to machines. Over the last few decades concerns around excessive focus on machines taking over industrial processes for economic value creation has raised the eyebrows of forward-thinking leaders and those concerned about social conditions.

The Debate around the Fifth Industrial Revolution

There are a few definitions and descriptions emerging, all centered around human role and value. Let us look at a few.

Østergaard[1] founder of Universal Robots defined it as the human touch revolution in 2019. He says “The mass customization … enabled by Industry 4.0 is not enough. Because consumers want more. They want mass personalization, which can only be achieved when the human touch returns to manufacturing. This is what I call Industry 5.0.”

Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce said at the World Economic Forum “I see a crisis of trust in technology. In the Fifth Industrial Revolution, we’re going to have to have… a chief ethical and humane use officer. Are we using these technologies for the good of the world? You can’t do business in the Fourth Industrial Revolution without the trust of your employees and your customers and partners.” The Fourth Industrial Revolution might be taking humans out of industry but the fifth wants to put them back in.

It is being touted as the revolution in which man and machine reconcile and find ways to work together as a part of execution process to improve the means and efficiency of production. Come to think of it, the transition to Industry 4.0 is not overnight and organizations will go through slow acceptance, which means man-machine co-working during the adoption of Industry 4.0.

QUESTION – “Why aim to take the human out fully to achieve the 4th revolution and then bring the human back to go to 5th revolution. Why not blend the technology mindfully while adopting the 4th revolution?”

The claims that the developments of Industry 5.0 could fully realize what the architects of Industry 4.0 had only dreamt of at the dawn of the 2010s; do not make sense[2]. You do not need another revolution to complete the job of the previous one. That would be an evolution or continuous improvement or debugging and not a revolution.

A recently published report from European Commission defines Industry 5.0[3] as going beyond producing goods and services for profit. It shifts the focus from the shareholder value to stakeholder value and reinforces the role and the contribution of industry to society. It complements the existing “Industry 4.0” approach by specifically putting research and innovation at the service of the transition to a sustainable, human-centric, and resilient European industry. The concept is clearly related to Japanese definition of Society 5.0.

The best argument in support of Industry 5.0 to be defined separate from Industry 4.0 was articulated by Gauri and VanEerden[4] in May 2019, as a collaborative work of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum. “The main principles of the 5th revolution include profit with purpose, focus on United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for achieving a flourishing future, closing the gender gap, and scaling, spreading, and becoming increasingly democratized.”

We like this a lot. We view it as refreshing thought process and not as an industrial revolution.

Cabe Atwell adds humor to the numbering scheme[5], “Industry is being “versioned” way too willy-nilly. We need versioning control! Without a better way of describing innovation in industry, we are doomed to see more “upgrading” of industry, since it is an attention-grabber. So, let me now coin the term “Industry 6.0,” where we never interface with any machine, person, or drafting table/setup. Instead, it’s all done in an app. We take a picture of a rough sketch and click “make it.”

In Summary,

The folks with technology and business focus are defining Industry 5.0 as effort to integrate humans with robots to meet the high demand for individual personalization or customization. We believe that can still be accomplished by ‘mindful digital transformation’ within industry 4.0 rather than obsession for automation and rush for gold.

The folks with heart are defining Industry 5.0 as outcome which is human centric, sustainable, and resilient. That could still be defined as ‘purposeful digital transformation’, where purpose is greater than economic metrics and includes social values. 

Either way, the term Industry 5.0 being described does not appear to be a technological revolution in a traditional industrial sense, but a re-acceptance of humanity that we may have been gradually losing with every industrial revolution, in our obsession for efficiency, productivity, and personal comfort.

I believe, these two philosophies can co-exist, and they look like

“Industry 5.0 = Industry 4.0 + Purpose (humanly)”

Is it time for Industry 5.0; what do you think?

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

[1] Welcome to Industry 5.0, The “human touch” revolution is now underway, Quality Magazine, May 08, 2019, Esben H Ostergaard.

[2] Guide to Industry 4.0 & 5.0,

[3] Industry 5.0: Towards more sustainable, resilient and human-centric industry, Jan 2021,

[4] What the Fifth Industrial Revolution is and why it matters, Pratik Gauri, & Jim Van Eerden, May 16, 2019

[5] Yes, Industry 5.0 is Already on the Horizon, Cabe Atwell, , SEP 12, 2017