Cisco Aces Virtual Forum with Gamification Component
Cisco’s 2009 global sales event was a virtual conference called the Global Sales Experience, or GSX. The innovative use of gaming as part of the design strategy deployed throughout the event, however, might cause some to call it the Gaming Sales Experience.
While virtual events are nothing new for tech-driven Cisco, the challenge of addressing an audience of 19,000 sales people across 24 time zones and 89 countries presented a never-done-before technical challenge, the success of which hinged on a successful user experience. That meant creating beautiful environmental design, a compelling user interface and a rich interactive storyline in a virtual b-to-b space—a platform infamous for being colorless, complicated and business formal. One of the biggest concerns was how to keep busy executives plugged into a virtual environment and at their computers for a week while also receiving product education and participating with teams across the globe in authoring a shared community experience.
Over the course of four days, a full 88 hours of content was delivered online including expert sessions, product and service information and networking opportunities. The gaming concept, however, which was totally new to the virtual design space, was key to keeping attendees engaged throughout the conference. Three mini games were developed to help attendees win points (by taking product quizzes and other activities) that were tracked on a public leader board. The points could be redeemed for prizes. The GSX leader board interactive display quickly became one of the most visited components of the site.
The highlight of the gaming activities and perhaps the most talked about aspect of the event overall was the alternate reality game called “The Threshold.” Launched four weeks prior to the GSX’s start date and designed to play like a crime drama, the premise of the game was a sci-fi themed thriller mystery in which attendees investigated the kidnapping of a fictional character and attempted to recover her invention, a high-tech type of eyewear. The Threshold’s episodes were driven by film footage of actors in action sequences, audio dialog, richly rendered art and false microsites, every aspect of which led attendees on team searches across the web to assemble clues and solve the mystery.
GSX was a worldwide conference unlike any other. In addition to a 90 percent reduction in costs, GSX accomplished the following: 93 percent of registrants attended the conference; 450,000 hours were spent in the environment, 13,000-plus participated in The Threshold alternate reality game and 10,000-plus played mini games. Come to think of it, maybe GSX stands for Gigantically Smart Ex award.