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Companies turn innovation into a game

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By 2015, more than 50% of organisations 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 per cent of Global 2000 organisations will have at least one gamified application.

"Gamification describes the broad trend of employing game mechanics to non-game environments such as innovation, marketing, training, employee performance, health and social change," says 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 organisation."
For example, the UK's Department for Work and Pensions created an innovation game called Idea Street to decentralise innovation and generate ideas from its 120,000 people across the organisation. Idea Street is a social collaboration platform with the addition of game mechanics, including points, leader boards and a "buzz index." Within the first 18 months, Idea Street had approximately 4,500 users and had generated 1,400 ideas, 63 of which had gone forward to implementation. Further examples include the US military's "America's Army" video-game recruiting tool, and the World Bank-sponsored Evoke game which crowdsources ideas from players globally to solve social challenges.
The goals of gamification are to achieve higher levels of engagement, change behaviours and stimulate innovation. The opportunities for businesses are great – from having more engaged customers, to crowdsourcing innovation or improving employee performance. Gartner identified four principal means of driving engagement using gamification:
* Accelerated feedback cycles. In the real world, feedback loops are slow (e.g., annual performance appraisals) with long periods between milestones. Gamification increases the velocity of feedback loops to maintain engagement.
* Clear goals and rules of play. In the real world, where goals are fuzzy and rules selectively applied, gamification provides clear goals and well-defined rules of play to ensure players feel empowered to achieve goals.
* A compelling narrative. While real-world activities are rarely compelling, gamification builds a narrative that engages players to participate and achieve the goals of the activity.
* Tasks that are challenging but achievable. While there is no shortage of challenges in the real world, they tend to be large and long-term. Gamification provides many short-term, achievable goals to maintain engagement.
"Where games traditionally model the real world, organisations must now take the opportunity for their real world to emulate games," says Burke. "Enterprise architects must be ready to contribute to gamification strategy formulation and should try at least one gaming exercise as part of their enterprise context planning efforts this year."