Every company on earth wants to do a better job at engaging customers and driving employee productivity. It's serious business for sure but the key to unlocking this may lie in something called gamification.
According to Gartner, gamification is the "broad trend of applying game mechanics to non-game environments such as innovation, marketing,..". Simply put, applying gaming design principles and techniques can help promote audience engagement for the purposes of solving business problems.
And it turns out, gamification is on the rise and figures to be a sizable business opportunity. M2 Research projects that the gamification market will grow to $2.8B in US by 2016. Gartner asserts that by 2015, more than 50% of organizations will gamify innovation process.
What's involved in gamification? Gamification generally involve the following elements which are leveraged to solve business related problems -
Challenge or Quest - every game has a purpose
Attainment - levels of achievement
Status - badges, ribbons, flairs signify status
Competition - leaderboards, scoreboards
These principles can be applied to a myriad of business scenarios - for instance, employee training programs. A 2011 BusinessWeek article on gamification featured Coldstone Creamery using a game to train employees on the link between ice cream portions and profitability.
The same article noted how gamification can also be applied in changing employee behavior. Cashiers at Target stores are scored based on the speed with which they successfully check out a customer, aligning both productivity behavior with rewards. Google applies a similar approach to expense control that offer rewards similar to what might be encountered in a video-game. Employees are able to amass points based on travel expense savings which they can then apply toward charitable giving or upgrades on another trip.
Gamification is on the rise and companies like Bunchball and Badgeville are leaders in this emerging market. Bunchball's much acclaimed Nitro for Saleforce product, uses gaming techniques to motivate and drive sales performance. The fact that Nitro for Salesforce won top app honors at Dreamforce '11 this past year speaks to the appeal of gamification in driving revenue.
Badgeville may be newer to the scene but they offer a broader "behavior management" platform that covers reputation management and social networking in addition to gamification. Part of this involves integrations with leading application platforms like Salesforce.com, Omniture and Jive.
Kevin Akeroyd, SVP Field Operations at Bdageville says - "Gamification, reputation and proprietary social networks are at the core of our Behavior Platform.... which is driving engagement, loyalty, commerce for the Fortune 1000 clients we work for..."
This may in fact, represent the next evolution of gamification for the enterprise. Instead of simply applying gamification techniques to a niche problem, companies will actually begin to leverage gamification as part of a behavior management platform where loyalty and engagement can be measured, managed and optimized.
Regardless of where this goes, you may want to keep an eye on this space and start applying gamification to your business initiatives.