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The 2014 Gamification Forecast

The 2014 Gamification ForecastWe are close to leveling up to 2014, which means it’s time to take a peek forward at the state of gamification and what we can expect in the new year. Based on the experiences in 2013 and the gamification trends that we have seen through our work at Enterprise Gamification Consulting, here is what we will see in the next 12 months.

 

#1 Gamification is here to stay

Whenever you see an article asking “Is Gamification a buzz/hype/fad?” (feel free to replace gamification with any other concept and technology and you get the same picture), you know that it’s not a fad anymore and the author needs to hurry in order not to miss the train.

We are in the fourth year of gamification, with close to two dozen gamification conferences having taken place on a global scale in 2013. Over 100 studiesmasters and doctoral thesis published on the topic demonstrate a viable and scientific interest in gamification.

And not only gamification is here to stay, so is the name itself. Even if you don’t like the term (and those discussion seem to have more shelf life than they should), the battle is lost. Gamification is here to stay. Move on, don’t make this awkward.

#2 HR will Drive Gamification

Corporations worldwide have been doing a phenominally catastrophic job of managing their most important resources: people.Gallup’s long-running studies on employee engagement reveil that on a global scale only 13% of employees are engaged. In other words: 87% or not engaged or actively disengaged – read: going so far as to even sabotage the company.

Part of the reason has been that although companies are spending billions of dollars every year on employee evaluations and management, nearly none of the approaches are creating the necessary data to evaluate the true performance and capabilities of an employee. Nor do they create an environment for engagement, with management often actively (and unconsciously) discouraging the same.

This interactive chart published by the Harvard Business Review gives a sad state of engagement.

Map: Global Employee Engagement (Gallup) Map: Global Employee Engagement (Gallup)

The result is the dismal state of engagement. This translates into a workforce that’s effectively underperforming. But because everyone is doing a bad job, your own bad job doesn’t stick out. We occasionally realize the true potential of engaged employees, when some superstar companies suddenly raise like meteorites.

Gamification solves two problems at once for HR: the core idea is that it’s design revolves around engaging the employees, and to achieve that it creates a large data trail of the activities. As gamification will eventually touch all aspects in an organization, HR needs to own gamification and oversee it’s implementation and operation.

Several of our customers have understood that already. All gamification initiatives are coordinated by their HR departments and put into a larger strategy. And that is another reason, why gamification is not a fad but here to stay: how can something that engages employees and creates such an invaluable amount of skill data be considered a short-lived fad?

#3 Gamification will Drive Big Data & Cloud

The gamification activity data collected will be the largest dataset inside an organization. And we talk about billions of records and terrabytes of data. Rajat Paharia, founder of gamification platform company Bunchball has been preaching that mantra for some time and made the case in his bestseller Loyalty 3.0. Simple calculations show you that gamification data will dwarf any other data that an organization creates. Assume that every employee generates through his or her daily work 100 activity-related records, from publishing a knowledgebase-article, sharing information with co-workers on the intranet, responding to emails, creating new key accounts, correcting a document, expensing travel costs in time, etc., and multiply that by the number of your employees. With just 10,000 employees organizations quickly create 1 million records per day. That is far more data than most transactional systems create.

This data can find use in a variety of ways:

  • for the employee in real-time to show them how they are doing and show them how they can improve and learn,
  • by the system to reward employees and give them feedback in a timely manner,
  • by HR and management to analyze activities, skills and their progression over time,
  • finding experts for different areas to match the rightly skilled employees for new projects,
  • replace periodical performance reviews with real-time feedback and learning.

As most gamification technologies are offered as software as a service, the combination of big data and Saas will drive cloud technologies as well. Even with some pushbacks thanks to NSA-spying and general skeptic in Europe, cloud-based solutions are currently the only viable way to go.

#4 From Denial to Acceptance

The success of gamification in changing behaviors and habits and making the life of people more entertaining and fun has been proven by many examples. From the anecdotal, to hard numbers in corporations, education, or healthcare, to an overwhelming evidence from scientific studies, applying gamification shows positive results.

This body of evidence helped to a lot of corporate people that we had interacted with in the past year to lay the grounds in their own organizations for gamification. When they first came to us to attend a workshop or listen to our presentation, they were the “lone nutcases” in their organization. Armed with some advice, facts & figures, and supporting materials from us, as well as connecting them with “lone nutcases” from other companies, gamification has become a new toolset for many organizations.

And a recent analysis on which companies have the most employees that have gamification in their LinkedIn profiledemonstrates in an impressive way that gamification is considered a gamechanger. With SAP, Accenture, Microsoft, IBM, Cognizant, and Oracle leading the pack, this topic is too important to keep staying in denial.

#5 Gamification will Grow Up and Lose Its Innocence

While even with the most basic gamification approaches using only pointsbadges, and leaderboards (aka PBL) the improvements in tracked metrics are astonishing, more sophisticated approaches are appearing in the first examples. After all, there are many more gamification design elements than those three that secure a longer-lasting and intrinsically motivatedengagement. Gamification designers also experience that competition (as the opposite of collaboration) is not necessarily the way to go, especially in a corporate environment.

But of course this is a learning process for gamification designers and represents a natural evolution of how we design gameful applications. While incentive systems and perks have been around for quite a while (representing Gamification 1.0), gamification based on a larger choice of extrinsic motivators such as PBL are just an intermediate step as Gamification 2.0, leading to a more sophisticated design that we can call Gamification 3.0.

We must not be surprised seeing in 2014 that beside growing up, we may see gamification losing more of its innocence. Many of us went into the gamification business with the real believe to make life and work better for people. If the year 2013 and before were an indication with a military (see the article on the IDF) or terroristic use of gamification (The world of Holy Warcraft), there is a high probability that we see more cringeworthy applications of gamification. Does this make gamification a bad thing? No, every technology and every concept can be used for good or evil. It just tells you that gamification has grown up.

#6 Convergence of Game & Gamification Technologies

As gamification practitioners consider serious gamessimulations, and gamification as categories under the umbrella-term ofEnterprise Gamification, the current gap between gamification and game technologies will force game studios and gamification technology companies to converge and integrate their technologies. While there is still a lot of space for new gamification technology entrants, either they have to bring in a new approach of integrated technologies, or the incumbents need to think of working together closer or even merging their organizations.

Conclusion

Summarizing from the forecast above, it’s never been a better moment to get into gamification than now.

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