Innovation Will Become a Game, Gartner Says

By Gary Kim April 15, 2011

By 2015, more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will "gamify" those processes, according to Gartner. By 2014, a "gamified" service for consumer goods marketing and customer retention will become as important as Facebook, eBay or Amazon, and more than 70 percent of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application. 

Educational software and flight simulators are examples of how "games" can enhance learning. But Gartner clearly believes the trend is about to explode.  "Gamification describes the broad trend of employing game mechanics to non-game environments such as innovation, marketing, training, employee performance, health and social change," said Brian Burke, an analyst at Gartner.

"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," Burke said. 

Gamification aims to achieve higher levels of engagement, to change behaviors and stimulate innovation. The opportunities for businesses might well include  more engaged customers, crowd-sourced  innovation or improved employee performance. 

Gartner sees four principal means of driving engagement using gamification. the most obvious being the accelerated feedback cycle. In the real world, feedback loops are slow, with long periods between milestones. To the extent that game-like learning software is more like a videogame, feedback is virtually instantaneous. 

But the learning goals have to be clear, with well-understood goals and well-defined rules of play. A compelling narrative and challenging but achievable tasks are also important. . Game-based processes must  provide many short-term, achievable goals to maintain engagement.

"Where games traditionally model the real world, organizations must now take the opportunity for their real world to emulate games," said Burke. The logic is sound, as games obviously can create lengthier engagement with consumers. 

You might think the forecast a bit aggressive, but consider the number of games that essentially are branding vehicles, being produced for Facebook, or the growing number of branding messages inserted into existing games. You could easily imagine 70 percent of the largest enterprises selling consumer goods having at least one such active effort by 2014. Similarly, you can imagine game-like training for employees being an early way the trend plays out. Beyond marketing and employee training, there might be slower progress. 

In areas such as innovation, it will be hard to create the "clear goals" and "rules of play," for example. 

Gary Kim is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

Contributing Editor

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