PHD launches Source, its gamified collaboration tool

November 29, 2012  |  Chris Powell  |  Comments

It’s online gaming minus the trash talk and glitch exploitation.

Media agency PHD today announced a new global operating system called Source that taps into the “gamification” trend that has swept through various industry sectors in recent years.

In short, gamification applies game mechanics such as points and rewards to non-game environments in order to foster engagement and collaboration.

Source has been in development for nearly two years and is designed to mimic a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game. It is intended to encourage participation and collaboration by staff across the entire PHD network.

It allows the approximately 3,000 employees across the global PHD network to tap into the “PHD mind,” providing ideas and solutions for briefs all over the world. Employees score points when their suggestions are used, and can keep tabs of their position on a global leader-board that is updated on a real-time basis.

Omnicom Media Group Canada president CEO Fred Forster calls Source a “game-changer” for the media planning and buying industry. “It’s jaw-dropping in terms of its ambition and it’s potential, and I think it’s really going to change the game in terms of how we think about media planning,” he told Marketing via telephone from California.

“It connects the entire network in a way that’s never been done before,” said Forster. “When people are actually working through media strategy and tactics and creative ideas, there’s no facility that I’m aware of in any media agency that allows people to tap into resources around the world on a real-time basis.”

Forster said that the gamification phenomenon is based on an intrinsic human need for competition and reward. “[Source] has tried to capture the essence of that and allow the system to propel people to participate and get involved in a broader sense.”

He said that Source would enable employees to remain abreast of new trends that can be applied to their clients’ businesses. “To believe you can still do your best work by having a very small team think about your business is not true anymore. You need to have more breadth of thinking, because there are a lot of people who know things you might not.”

Forster says that Source is an evolution of PHD’s current approach to communications planning, ETNA (Exploration, Thought leader, Neuroplanning, Action plan), which it will replace on Jan. 1.

The Source platform was built in collaboration with offices from all around the world. The Canadian primary on the project was PHD’s senior vice-president, planning services Rob Young.

The announcement comes just two days after a damning report on gamification by U.S. research firm Gartner, which stated that the trend is currently being driven by “novelty and hype.” Gartner predicted that 80% of current gamified applications will fail to achieve their business objectives by 2014 because of poor design.

“The challenge facing project managers and sponsors responsible for gamification initiatives is the lack of game design talent to apply to gamification projects,” said Gartner’s vice-president of research Brian Burke in a release. “Poor game design is one of the key failings of many gamified applications today.”

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