Summarizing the two key terms defined by Michael Wu, Ph.D Lithium's Principal Scientist of Analytics, on the Lithium blog:
"At the most fundamental level, gamification is the use of game mechanics to drive game-like engagement and actions....in everyday life, we are often presented with activities we hate, whether it is boring chores or stressful works. Gamification is the process of introducing game mechanics into these abhorred activities to make them more game-like (i.e. fun, rewarding, desirable, etc.), so that people would want to proactively take part in these tasks."
Wu continues about game mechanics. "They are principles, rules, and/or mechanisms that govern a behavior through a system of incentives, feedback, and rewards with reasonably predictable outcome. Some of them are so predictable that they can almost be seen as a kind of behavioral or psychological reflex, much like the patellar reflex of your knee when tapped by a physician."
Where is this going in 2011?
R Ray Wang writes how Gamification Will Drive Future Enterprise Software User Experiences in Trends: 5 Engagement Factors For Gamification And The Enterprise which outlines how the enterprise can apply game mechanics and dynamics to improve engagement and participation within the business and also with partners, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.
- Social was about connecting, collaborating and engaging with others. We saw Content become increasingly (now exponentially) user-generated. Gamification is about participation, motivating behavior and rewards. Content will be much more pervasively co-created as well as user-generated.
- Digital content is the current standard; gamification requires mobile access, delivery and publishing for all content, content/social/gaming objects and their associated interactions and processing.
- Content marketing was the new black in 2010 and will evolve to becoming interactive and immersive (gamified) in 2011.
- Content strategy and strategists will be essential element for planning and execution.
Gamification is a new opportunity for innovation, monetization and productivity.There are already some well documented successes:
- Innovation: website modernization can increase brand awareness, loyalty and customer engagement. Much more than your traditional loyalty program Microsoft, Google, Playboy, Ford and others have realized these benefits by adopting game dynamics.
- Monetization: DevHub increased engagement rate of 300% and increased revenue for virtual goods grew to 30% of overall revenue within 3 months.
- Productivity: Microsoft gamified software development testing to drive significant improvements and user participation. Microsoft’s Beta1 Game from the Vista release increased beta testers by 400% and their Language Quality Game for Windows 7 had users provide feedback and commentary on 500,000 screenshots.
- All of the above: In November 2010, a co-created report between Stamford University and Seriosity Inc published a report that presents the significant benefits gaming and virtual world would bring to government and its citizens: Government Uses for Games and Virtual Worlds: Optimizing Choices for Citizens and Government Workers in the Areas of Energy Efficiency, Educational Assessment, Worker Productivity, Safety and Health, and Quality of Information Exchanges.
How companies adopt and deploy 'gamification' is yet to be seen. I recently published an article via CMS Wire that looks at the potential to improve sales enablement and productivity through gamification. While many have doubts about the validity and value in the non-gaming world, the industry research and support suggests that it's not a passing fad:
- Gartner included Gamification in its CIO New Years Resolutions, 2011
- Venturebeat.com writes that over $25 million US went to businesses using gamification as a core customer strategy and at least one $100 million fund dedicated in part to gamification was launched. You can read more on Venturebeat's website which has an entire stream dedicated to
- M2 Research estimates that the production of gamification projects will generate $1.6 billion in revenues by 2015 with an average growth rate for the next two years of 150%.
- Bloomberg Businesssweek writes that Gamification is a trendy technique to build addictive websites and has raised the number of return visitors by 20% for some sites.
I'm sure we'll see a few business-related early adopter / experimental applications in 2011. From my perspective, a lens that combines enterprise software, mobility and MMORPG experience, I see several immediate opportunities:
- Product Testing: as noted above about the success Microsoft has experienced
- Sales Productivity: there's no better captive audience to deploy an incentive-based, reward-driven, status granting gamified application. We joke that sales is coin operated; what if we gave them lots of virtual coins for giving feedback, co-creating content and participating with communities? As noted above, I detail some examples via CMS Wire.
- User Adoption: gamify learning systems and work process. Whether it's onboarding, product training or domain/subject/application specific learning - make the experience tolerable and potentially fun. The more end users who know how to use a system, application or process - this will increase productivity and even may lower the TCO of enterprise software purchases and implementations.