It's all about getting your head into the game. Gamification, the technique of integrating game-like concepts in non-game scenarios, is getting increasingly popular among businesses across the world. Gamification is expected to make huge strides in the future, with M2 research predicting the total gamification market reaching $242 million by the end of 2012, going up to $2.8 billion by 2016.
Technology consultancy Gartner says that gamification will become a highly significant trend in the next 5 years, with more than 70 percent of global 2000 organizations expected to have at least one gamified application. It has also projected that 50 percent of corporate innovation will be "gamified" by 2015.
Be it customer surveys, reward systems or competitive contests, anything and everything can be turned into a game to achieve corporate goals. Businesses are applying the principles of game mechanics both internally and externally. While internal gamification involves engaging employees, gamification aimed at clients and customers results in better engagement and increase in customer loyalty.
When used internally, gamification not only makes work more fun, but also fosters innovation. For example, the UK's Department for Work and Pensions implemented an innovation game called 'Idea Street' for idea-generation from its 120,000 employees. Similarly, many companies are actively implementing game techniques, badges, reward systems, and progress bars to boost employee morale and engagement. Getting the sales team to solve quizzes or participate in situational role plays contributes to building team spirit. Companies are also finding gamification to be an effective way to attract and retain millennials – those between the ages 18 and 27.
In 2011, the University of Washington created the game 'Foldit', which showed the impact that gamification can have. The game needed the players to discover the use of an important protein in HIV cure. Scientists had been trying to figure the answer for the last 15 years. It took less than 2 weeks for 46,000 players to solve the puzzle through the game.
Some of the biggest brands have taken to gamification in a big way. For example, Coca-Cola gamified its vending machines in Japan last year as part of a campaign called "Happiness Quest". The campaign let people use their smartphones to scan a QR code to check-in and interact with their favorite machine.
Gamification, when coupled with social media, has tremendous potential to dynamically engage users. Pew Research says social networks are largely driving gamification.
However, organizations must do their homework in audience research, application design and maintenance to ensure that gamification delivers the expected results. For instance, organizations need to constantly evaluate the way people interact with the system, and shape the process to encourage certain behaviors and discourage others. Getting a positive ROI will need long-term thinking and strategizing. With companies scaling up the reach of gamification for both fun and engagement, it looks like the game's just begun!