Why Gamification Matters

By Samuel Greengard

It takes only a glance at the Web or smartphone apps to realize that elements of gaming are now everywhere. As a person reaches a goal, he earns a badge or trophy. As she purchases things in the real world, she receives virtual currency (think loyalty program). Depending on the initiative or app, there are also check-ins, leaderboards and rankings. Old school companies like DirecTVVolkswagen and Nike have fully embraced the concept.

As people become more accustomed to interactive environments, the stakes continue to grow. According to a newly released book, Gamify: How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things, author and Gartner research vice president Brian Burke points out that the concept has tremendous potential but most organizations aren’t getting it right. What’s more, many business and IT executives don’t recognize how critical player motivation is to success.

“Organizations should use gamification to empower their customers, employees and communities to reach their goals. Gamification is about motivating people to achieve their own goals, not the organization’s goals,” Burke notes. When an organization uses gaming techniques to motivate a group, a company achieves business outcomes as a consequence.

Yes, gamification is an upside-down, inside-out concept for many business and IT leaders. Dinosaur thinking revolves around businesses bludgeoning their way into new markets, relying on carpet-bombing marketing and strong-arming employees into accepting new ways of working.

Gamification is about pulling rather than pushing. It’s the carrot rather than the stick. Within this new digital order, executives must rethink how they can design solutions for engagement rather than only efficiency, Burke points out. It’s an environment that pushes business and IT leaders to step beyond interactions and transactions. The focus is ultimately on the design and delivery of digital experiences.

Accenture points out that gamification isn’t only for Millennials and techies; it’s now in the mainstream. Building an effective strategy requires a focus on some combination of seven key components: status, milestones, competition, rankings, social connectedness, immersion reality and personalization. According to Accenture, many older adults are also becoming digital device-savvy. “And they are often just as keen as the young to compete with their peers and publicize their accomplishments—the essential principles of gamification,” the authors note.

Maybe it’s time for CIOs and other business leaders to play games.

About the Author

Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for CIO Insight. To read his previous CIO Insight blog post, “Five Habits of Highly Successful Digital Companies,” click here.

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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