Gamification – Both Sides of the Coin


Even though the term “Gamification” has been around for a number of years it appears to moving up the “buzz word” charts again due to analysts discussing it and the consultants endorsing it so I thought I would share some of my views on Enterprise gamification.

 Over the last few months I have come across various articles mentioning Gamification and although most of the source predictions originated with Gartner, certain articles have removed elements which not only change the perspective but also show that the subject is still not fully understood.  The below is the original Gartner prediction and beneath a version used by a well known consultancy.  As you can see they have not used the last important sentence which advices caution in your approach.

Gartners View – By 2015, 40 percent of Global 1000 organisations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations. But before then, 80 percent of current gamified applications will fail – primarily due to poor design. 

Consultant View – Gartner research projects that by 2014, more than 70 percent of Forbes Global 2000 organizations will have at least one games-based application and that by 2015, half of all companies that manage innovation processes will have “gamified” them

 Gamification has been perfected by the gaming community over the years due to the increased popularity and revenues associated with online gaming and Gartner predicts that the industry could be worth $112 billion globally by 2015.  Gamification in the Enterprise is all about extracting the addictive qualities found in video games and using them in other applications to elicit a prescribed response. 

 The use of game dynamics has shown that if you want consumers to engage and return it is beneficial to leverage our natural desires for Winning, Learning, Social Connection and Order.  This can be achieved through offering “gamers” access to communities, rewards like virtual currencies and achievement badges or levels.  Game Developers have become masters of engagement and have started to leverage the softer sciences of psychology and neuroscience to understand the elements of human motivation which can then be used to optimise “game play”.

 It is also believed that as Generation Y (born between 1980 and 2000) fully integrates into the workplace the use of Gamification will increase as these individuals have grown up using digital and are natural gamers.  Over 250 Million people are now playing games on Facebook each month.

 As Gartner infers, there are now numerous examples where Gamification has proven successful ranging from Open Innovation Competitions where voting is prevalent to companies eliciting feedback from their consumers on product design and the use of check-ins through companies like Foursquare, Leadership Academies and telematics, however there are probably as many failures which are never discussed.

 Although the premise “if you make things fun you will get better adoption” is true, you need to be careful about trying to gamify everything just for the sake of it.  Dry subjects or tasks will certainly benefit from Gamification however like most things you need to re-engineer the approach not just “lift and shift” the original process and try to make it fun.

 One of the elements which most people forget is that Gamification is an iterative approach.  Naturally you need to design the Games based on the original processes, however the real skill is in the constant optimisation to ensure that the organisational and behavioural changes required are identified and corrective changes made to enhance them.  It is said that only 50% of the cost of Gamification is in the implementation with the rest of the costs being used in optimisation and running of the platform.

 One use of Gamification which is generally not realised is in the products which offer freemium and premium services.  The companies offering these services can use Gamification techniques on the freemium users to see how they react to changes before they offer them to their paying customers.  Freemium is the test bed for Gamification whereas Premium is the deployment.

 Enterprises can certainly unlock their Digital advantage through Gamification, by using social platforms to provide a single view of the Customer, Staff and Enterprise, however Gamification is not the silver bullet, and you still require Good Products, Services, Content and User Experience. You should not confuse activity with success so having metrics will always ensure you are on the right track even if they are soft behavioural or Cultural ones.  Remember there are many reasons to Gamify the Enterprise but the main ones are to Change Behaviour, Develop Skills or Drive Innovation.


Author: Steve Wakefield

Steve Wakefield is an experienced Innovator presently based in London.

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