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In a new study, Business Strategy: The Role of Gamification in Utilities’ Consumer Engagement, IDC Energy Insights forecasts that, by 2014, worldwide utilities IT spending for gamification tools, applications and services will be approximately $13,5-million, rising to $65-million in 2016.

IDC Energy Insights also expects that by 2016, 60% of progressive worldwide energy retailers will utilize at least one gamified application.

Gamification is a much vaunted strategy to engage and encourage audiences to undertake and adopt actions or behaviours that they may not get round to left to their own devices. The new IDC Energy Insights study explores the potential for gamified applications in the energy sector by analysing real-world pioneering and innovative gamification projects.

It focuses on how gamification can be leveraged to engage consumers to realise energy efficiencies, improve peak response, build customer loyalty, and acquire new customers in energy competitive markets. Early indications for gamifying utilities and other energy players seem positive.

“With all the hype surrounding gamification, some of which is rightly deserved, it remains to be seen how well these mechanisms work over the long term or the level of appetite and patience that audiences will have when faced with a plethora of gamified applications vying for their attention.

“However, it provides an interesting avenue for further investigation and research,” says Adam Ajzensztejn, senior research analyst at IDC Energy Insights, EMEA.

Behavioural change programs are a vital component of a sustainable energy strategy, serving as a good value proposition for utilities and other energy players keen to improve energy efficiency and/or peak response.
Gamification is just one approach to instigate behavioural change and engage consumers. It provides a current approach using characteristics which are familiar to large segments of the population, including some demographics often harder to engage through conventional communication programs.

Various approaches to gamification in the energy sector are being piloted or commercially deployed, each adopting differing gamification techniques and having different key objectives.

A common factor to each is their use of granular and real-time energy data which allows them to provide instantaneous feedback. Thus, mass deployment of smart meters and smart grids is likely to result in increased adoption of gamified applications in new markets.

An increasing variety of vendors are bringing gamification technologies to the market, which integrate with social platforms and enterprise applications. Utilities will continue to adopt such technologies, serving as a key component of their communication and consumer engagement strategies.