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Enterprise Gamification: 5 Trends to Track

If you’re interested in where enterprise gamification is going, lead researcher Mario Herger of the Enterprise Gamification Consultancy has brilliantly elucidated the topic in the consultancy’s 2015 Gamification Industry Report. The report covers twelve gamification platform providers with a focus on engagement and behavior modification platforms as well as enterprise grade gamification. It also makes some sound observations on the state of the gamification market in 2015, which has at long last evolved from something rather exotic into a mainstream offering that is made by large software vendors. Here are five salient takeaways from the report:

1. Enterprise Gamification is Happening Now

Although Enterprise gamification was hyped in 2012, it isn’t a thing or the past, and it isn’t in the trough of disillusionment. It is just starting to kick off in organizations.

Herger predicts that the gamification industry market should double over the next year. It does ring true that only now do organizations grasp of what enterprise gamification is and its potential to positively impact employee engagement and performance.

According to Herger, the arrival of new players on the scene, particularly large software vendors, indicates a new chapter in the development of the gamification market. Moreover, the entrance of dominant software providers into the market is an indication to business customers that gamification tools are becoming mainstream. Herger not only forecasts that additional large players will enter the market over the next 12 to 18 months, but he anticipates a wave of consolidation.

2. Niche VS Universal Gamification

The report focuses on universal gamification platform providers. For Herger “universal” means those platforms that concern more than one gamification use case. In other words, not just platforms for customer service gamification or sales gamification but platforms that cover many scenarios and that require integration across several enterprise apps. 

The idea here is that in realistic implementations in organizations, gamification needs to work across several enterprise apps. The point of gamification is the ability to deliver almost real-time feedback on performance so that employees can react and self-reflect. This not only necessitates excellent amalgamation, but other integrations, such as eLearning, are also needed — whether they are in sales, customer service or other applications.

3. Not Just a Platform

The report is careful to point out that choosing a great and robust enterprise gamification platform isn’t enough. Game design and success practices, such as training and communication of gamification’s objectives, are just as important. Game features and mechanics are simply not enough. We completely agree with Herger that the meeting point between gamification and performance management requires management to set sound, well-thought-out goals that merge with gamification efforts to produce a cohesive process and to lay the foundation for continuous progress: change management. Gamification works for organizations that use it not only as a great platform, but as a means to focus on conveying corporate objectives and key performance indicators to all employees and to track them in real-time.

4. Design Gamification with Empathy

I couldn’t agree more with Herger’s remark that empathy is a core consideration in gamification design. By empathy he means seeing gamification as a way to enhance employees’ performance by boosting their happiness and not just treating their work as a mechanical competition. To achieve this, games need to be designed from employees’ point of view. For example, the employee should be the hero of their game and their training and feedback take center stage, compared to making them feel demeaned by accentuating their colleagues’ performance. Focusing on tough competition and rewarding killer-type activity is neither realistic nor good for employees or their organizations.

5. Gamification for the Long-Term

In the report, Herger notes that “most vendors and customers also neglect to establish a long term strategy for gamification. The focus in most projects is narrow and applied to one project only… without a strategy for sustainable engagement”. I cannot agree more or emphasize enough that gamification should not just be a quick-fix solution that falsely increases a specific activity. It must be maintainable and leave lasting performance changes. This is the core test for the industry that can be resolved by some serious thought regarding performance, lasting engagement, and games that are flexible enough in their design to progress and keep employees engaged — and happy, over time.