3 questions with a Product Manager at Bunchball

Andrew Kirpalani - Product Manager at Bunchball

Connect with this Des Moines resident on Twitter or at StartupCity, Crossfit 8035 or on Saturday and Sunday morning at Jethro's by Drake where he'll be having brisket and eggs.

What is Bunchball and what do you do there?

Bunchball is the leader in gamification. That’s what it says on our logo. Seriously though, the company founded the gamification industry in 2007 and offers the best solutions in the market. 

But Andrew, you ask, what the heck is gamification? Dear Reader, I respond, gamification is simply motivation through data. Bunchball helps companies motivate their employees and customers via the data that those people generate going about their daily tasks and activities. We do it all as a Software-as-a-Service platform that can be deployed anywhere.

As for me, I am the product manager for our Nitro for Salesforce product. Nitro for Salesforce is our integration with the Salesforce.com platform to help companies that use that platform to motivate their employees, whatever their function might be within the organization.

I recently moved into the role from that of a developer, so now instead of writing code, I decide what we should write code to do. Day to day, that means I talk to customers, our sales, service, and engineering people and work with my team to define and build the best possible product.

What industry is just begging to be gamified but hasn't been? 

It’s actually pretty amazing how gamification has started to permeate our lives. Many, if not most, of the things we do have at least rudimentary gamification applied. There is a ton of opportunity to improve those experiences through thoughtful design and implementation of those programs.

However, if there is one industry in which I personally have noticed a gap, it would be content creation. I have accounts on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Blogspot, ad nauseum, but I do a terrible job of creating content. I’d like to blog more, take more photos, just do a better job of sharing, but aside from a vague Klout score, nothing incents and reminds me to do those things in a way that changes my behavior. That’s the real key of gamification, by applying these techniques, we can actually change our behavior and get better at things that are important to us. Our jobs, our fitness, our finances...anything.

What's your favorite game?

This question gets asked a lot. It’s actually one of the most common misconceptions about gamification. Gamification does not equal playing games. Games are for entertainment, they are the core experience. Gamification takes the game mechanics, the motivational techniques from games, and applies them to an experience that has some other value, like a job, working out, or consuming content.

To illustrate the difference I’ll give you both my current favorite game and my current favorite implementation of gamification.

Game: My current favorite game is Cards Against Humanity. CAH is enjoyable in its own right, it cracks me up and gives me a great excuse to hang out and be horrible with my friends. There are actually few game mechanics, only simple scoring, but the experience is fantastic.

Gamification: Crossfit. I was at the gym the other day and one of the other members who knows what I do turned to me and said “Crossfit is fitness, gamified, isn’t it?” Surprisingly, I hadn’t really thought about it before, but that’s completely the truth. Crossfit takes a core experience that isn’t always fun, working out, and wraps motivation and data around it. Every workout has a method of scoring, so I can see how I did. There is a constant leaderboard, so I can see how I’m comparing to others. I have that data over time, so I can see my progress. There is peer support and interaction. All the key elements of gamification are there.

And look, it changes behavior. There is a running gag on social media:

Q: "How do you know if someone does Crossfit?" A: "They’ll tell you"

It’s true. People talk about it because it has become important to them. They’ve become motivated to get off their comfortable couches and improve their fitness. They are healthier, and happier, and they keep going back to pick up heavy things, run themselves to exhaustion, push to the point of wheezing like an elderly person, because their fundamental desires and motivations have changed.

For someone like me, who has always struggled with fitness, it has been a game changer.

And yes I’m a Crossfitter, because I told you all about Crossfit.

Photo Credit: Headshot by Tej Dhawan. Crossfit photo via Crossfit 8035 on Facebook.