As more businesses add gamification to their repertoire of tools, the misconception remains that awarding points or badges for existing activities should do the trick. After all, who doesn't like more points and badges?
Not so fast, says Brian Burke, research vice president at Gartner. By 2014, the firm estimates that 80 percent of current gamified applications in the enterprise will fail to meet their respective business objectives. The primary culprit of all those failures in gamification is bad design, says Burke.
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"Gamification is built for engagement so it's an entirely different paradigm. A lot of people in IT organizations are not going to be familiar with [it]," Burke says. "That's OK. In fact, there is a real skill shortage in terms of understanding that process of getting to know who these players are and what their motivations are and building an experience that is going to engage them at an emotional level and help them to achieve their goals."
While gamification isn't the only path to increased engagement, businesses that leverage this opportunity effectively can drive substantial increases in revenue. The top 20 percent of major firms in terms of engagement average 250 percent higher revenue growth than their peers, according to Gartner.
Gamification can achieve multiple objectives for businesses, including employee satisfaction, an increase in innovation, skills development and changing behaviors. These solutions are typically applied to three audiences: customers, employees or any community of interest.
With those prospects it's no wonder Gartner expects gamification to be the primary mechanism used by at least 40 percent of Fortune 1000 companies to transform business operations by next year.
"What's different about gamification, and I believe definitional about gamification, is that it uses a digital engagement model as opposed to the kinds of engagement models that have been around for a long time," Burke tells CIO.com. "The Boy Scouts have been handing out badges for a century and the military for many, many centuries."
Aligning player and your business objectives
For any gamification project to succeed, businesses need to align the goals of players with those of the organization itself. "There are a lot of misconceptions there that you can slap points, badges and leader boards on to anything and it's going to magically become engaging," says Burke.
"It's a more involved process to understand who the players are, what their motivations are, what their goals are -- and [then] design an experience that's going to take them along a path to achieving their goals," Burke says.
[Related: How Gamification Makes Customer Service Fun]