Whether you like it or not, gamification is hot, hot, hot. And CIOs and other IT types who aren't paying attention (or are busy pooh-poohing this trend) will be missing the boat, says Gartner.
Today, the tech research firm released a report that says over half of companies that want to drive innovation will be gamified by 2015 -- and that in three years, gamified services for consumer goods marketing/customer retention will become as important as Facebook, Amazon or eBay.
"Gamification describes the broad trend of employing game mechanics to non-game environments such as innovation, marketing, training, employee performance, health and social change," says Gartner analyst Brian Burke. "Enterprise architects, CIOs and IT planners must be aware of, and lead, the business trend of gamification, educate their business counterparts and collaborate in the evaluation of opportunities within the organization."
An example cited in the report includes the UK Department for Work and Pensions, which created a Idea Street -- a social collaboration platform with points, leaderboards and buzz index -- which helped generate 1,400 ideas from its staff of 120K people -- 63 of which are in various stages of implementation.
Gartner went a step further and laid out four ways of driving engagement through gamification:
"1. Accelerated feedback cycles. In the real world, feedback loops are slow (e.g., annual performance appraisals) with long periods between milestones. Gamification increases the velocity of feedback loops to maintain engagement.
2. Clear goals and rules of play. In the real world, where goals are fuzzy and rules selectively applied, gamification provides clear goals and well-defined rules of play to ensure players feel empowered to achieve goals.
3. A compelling narrative. While real-world activities are rarely compelling, gamification builds a narrative that engages players to participate and achieve the goals of the activity.
4. Tasks that are challenging but achievable. While there is no shortage of challenges in the real world, they tend to be large and long-term. Gamification provides many short-term, achievable goals to maintain engagement."
"Enterprise architects must be ready to contribute to gamification strategy formulation and should try at least one gaming exercise as part of their enterprise context planning efforts this year," says Burke.
This whole ‘gamification is a big deal’ message will be explored further at the Gartner Enterprise Architecture Summit 2011, May 9-10 in London and June 22-23 in San Diego, CA. For a more hands-on experience, you can also attend one of Gabe Zichermann's recently announced Gamification mini-summits which will take place in several cities starting in May.