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Gamification is Failing to Meet Business Objectives

Gamification: a funny word describing a technique businesses use to improve their everyday staff operations. But as Techworld’s Sophie Curtis explains, gamified applications are predicted to fail for businesses no less than 80 percent of the time. Still, analysts continue to support the claims that gamification can engage and motivate employees to exhibit desirable behaviors, develop valuable skills, and produce breakthrough innovations. For Curits, it is not really a question of if, but how.

Targeting the Underdogs

When most people imagine a game, they immediately think of something like Poker, which is a competitive game with extrinsic rewards, (in this case a pot of money). While this kind of game can be very motivating for people who are good at the game, it can alienate those who are less skilled.

Curtis gives an example of such an ill-designed game – one in which salespeople compete for a quarterly bonus. The pitfall of this approach is that those with little confidence in their abilities will most likely not compete, assuming they will lose. The argument for improving gamification is that those individuals who are less competitive should be the target of the motivational tactics. This may require a more collaborative style of game that involves intrinsic rewards like peer recognition and self-esteem.

Games that Mean Business

And this type of collaborative game makes more sense for businesses, which are usually more focused on maximizing overall performance, not just enhancing individual outcomes. However as Curtis notes, it is important for businesses not to overlook their target audience in a rush to develop the game. The design of a game needs to begin with a target audience in mind, by identifying rewards that are both appropriate and broadly desirable. Within the article, Gartner analyst Brian Burke says:

“The game design parameters have to be where your business objectives and your player objectives overlap.”

The value of emergent games is that they can produce innovations around, say, product design. And games are rewarding for employees as well, giving them more control over their work environment. Despite lingering skepticism, Gartner research predicts that gamification will be the primary mechanism for transforming business operations by 2015. One can only imagine what that will be like.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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