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Bunchball Brings Gamification To Salesforce.com

Now that you've automated your sales force, Bunchball wants to help motivate them.

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Bunchball is preparing to teach Salesforce.com how the game of sales is played.

A specialist in gamification, a type of social software that adds elements like competition, rewards, and rankings to websites and applications, Bunchball on Wednesday announced a family of gamification applications called Nitro Elements, built atop Nitro, its general purpose platform for adding game features to websites and applications. Nitro for Salesforce, which should be available through the Salesforce.com AppExchange sometime in September, is one key integration, which Bunchball will be demonstrating at the Dreamforce user conference next week.

"The basic message is, once you've automated your sales force, now it's time to motivate them," founder and Chief Product Officer Rajat Paharia said in an interview. Salespeople are naturally competitive, and they will be motivated to play the game even harder, and have more fun doing it, given an easy way of seeing where they rank in the standings. Beyond individual competition, Nitro for Salesforce can rank teams of salespeople based on their collective performance. That adds another form of motivation, where "nobody wants to let down the team," Paharia said.

In addition to closing deals, salespeople can get recognition for Chatter activity or other behaviors management wants to reinforce, Paharia said. Managers also can organize short-term contests, like a reward that goes to whoever sells the most in the month of June, he said. "Social is the key, which is why Salesforce is pushing Chatter so hard," he said. "Salesforce is a super powerful platform, and ours is similarly powerful but on a different angle."

Bunchball offers a general purpose platform for building game elements for websites and applications called Nitro, which competes with similar products from companies like Badgeville. With Nitro Elements, Bunchball is providing more neatly packaged gamification elements. The first of these are FanBox and GameBox. Both can be incorporated into a website by adding a few lines of JavaScript.

FanBox is a component that can be added to a website to provide recognition and rewards to members of an online community for completing actions like tweeting, watching a video, or connecting with your brand on Facebook. Marketers can create "missions" describing the behaviors they want to reward, and then buy credits from Bunchball for the rewards to be doled out to visitors who complete those missions. Although there are many ways of offering rewards, Bunchball has decided to simplify the process in this case by standardizing on Amazon gift cards people can earn when they have accumulated enough credits.

"In this case, we don't want our customers to have to figure that stuff out, so we will provide something of value that those who accumulate enough points can redeem for dollar-value goods," Paharia said.

GameBox is designed to increase the time visitors spend on a website and provide money making opportunities with popular online games like online poker. Implementing GameBox is as easy as adding a snippet of code to your website, and it's free. If users buy additional chips to keep playing the game, the website owner gets some incremental revenue.

Besides providing the apps, Bunchball provides the aggregated audience of players from across all the websites implementing those apps, so that people can easily find someone to play with even if the site hosting the games is not a particularly high-traffic one on its own, Paharia said.

Although competition in the gamification market is increasing, Paharia said he believes Bunchball has about a four-year head start--although he jokes that Bunchball spent most of that time "unencumbered by customers." Until now, "the history of this company has been to have the right idea, but too early," he said.

"We were actually the very first gaming company on Facebook," Paharia said. Originally set up as a company that would provide a platform that game developers could build their applications on, Bunchball changed its business model in 2007, before the consumer market for games from companies like Zynga exploded, he said. "We didn't stick it out, so we missed that opportunity." Now, Bunchball is finally in the right place at the right time with a product that matches what the market wants, he said.

At the 2011 InformationWeek 500 Conference, C-level executives from leading global companies will gather to discuss how their organizations are turbo-charging business execution and growth--how their accelerated enterprises manage cash more effectively, invest more wisely, delight customers more consistently, manage risk more profitably. The conference will feature a range of keynote, panel, and workshop sessions. St. Regis Monarch Beach, Calif., Sept. 11-13. Find out more and register.

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