We can define gamification as the use of game mechanics and game design techniques in non-game contexts to design behaviors, develop skills or to engage people in innovation. Strategic planners, HR, business managers and IT leaders must begin to understand the long-term impact of gamification and identify opportunities to leverage gamification in their organizations today.
Gamification started as a trend about just few years ago, first appearing on Google Trends in September 2010. Mobile, cloud, social and location-based services have played a huge part in the rise of gamification to date. By 2020, the maturation of additional emerging technologies, including gesture control, head-mounted displays and augmented reality, will further enable the use of gamification in many domains by seamlessly integrating technology into our daily lives (see “Hype Cycle for Human-Computer Interaction, 2012“).
What are the key Challenges?
Employee engagement is the key paradigm of the XXI century organizations.
- Organizations are challenged to increase engagement with employees and improve performance.
- Human potential is unrealized, because higher education is limited to those people with geographic and/or economic advantages.
- Organizations are challenged to effectively engage employees and customers in innovation.
- Consumers are overwhelmed by many disconnected loyalty programs that leverage uninspiring extrinsic rewards.
Based on the Gartner research we can project future scenarios where gamification, combined with other emerging trends and technologies, may result in significant change on different areas of business and society, including:
- An explosion of innovation
- The design of employee performance
- The globalization of advanced education
- The gamification of personal development
- The emergence of customer engagement platforms
Let me pay attention on the first 2 points exposed.
- An Explosion of Innovation. In the future, gamification will play a key role in innovation management, both internal and external to organizations, by engaging a target audience and leveraging the collective intelligence of the crowd to solicit ideas, develop those ideas and predict success using prediction market mechanisms. Innovation management is a natural domain for gamification, and the increasing sophistication of innovation game design, along with broader target audience participation and a greater number of organizations using this approach, will result in an explosion of gamified, crowdsourced innovations by 2020.
- The Design of Employee Performance. Gamification uses the currencies of social capital, self-esteem and fun overtaking extrinsic rewards as motivations for improved performance. Also, competitive games will play less of a role in employee performance being displaced by collaborative games that are designed to maximize business outcomes, rather than rewarding a few top performers. Employee performance feedback will move from being top-down and periodic (often annual) to being social, peer-based and real-time. Game mechanics are being applied differently to different types of work to drive different types of behaviors:
Current top-down, command and control management approaches are being replaced by game design skills. Successful managers in the future will be great designers of games that engage employees through either scripted or emergent games that are designed to achieve specific business outcomes.
Best Practice: While employee behavior design is an attractive idea, organizations must approach employee-facing gamification applications with caution. Employees must not feel manipulated or intimidated, but enabled to achieve their goals. Organizations should seek to clearly define the organizational objectives of employee-facing applications, understand employee objectives and focus on where the two overlap. Applications should be people-centric and enable employees to be successful in achieving their objectives — where they are aligned with organizational objectives.
- Organizations must understand the potential of gamification to design behaviors, develop skills, enable innovation and begin to deploy low-risk applications.
- Gamification project managers must engage game designers or organizations with experience in gamification in early implementations.
- Strategic planners must learn how gamification is being applied in their industries and how their organizations can leverage gamification to engage employees or customers.
- Business managers must assess the impact of the longer-term discontinuities that gamification will cause and begin to position their organizations to capitalize on the trend.