Brian Burke

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Brian Burke
Research Analyst
9 years at Gartner
29 years IT industry

Brian Burke is an analyst for Gartner, specializing in enterprise architecture and gamification. His groundbreaking work in the development of federated architectures has been implemented in hundreds of organizations in both... Read Full Bio

Gartner Redefines Gamification

by Brian Burke  |  April 4, 2014  |  39 Comments

Gamification is often loosely defined, leading to market confusion, inflated expectations and implementation failures. An updated definition is required to clarify what gamification is, and what it is not. Gartner is redefining gamification as “the use of game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals”

The key elements of the definition are:

  • Game mechanics describes the use of elements such as points, badges and leaderboards that are common to many games.
  • Experience design describes the journey players take with elements such as game play, play space and story line.
  • Gamification is a method to digitally engage, rather than personally engage, meaning that players interact with computers, smartphones, wearable monitors or other digital devices, rather than engaging with a person.
  • The goal of gamification is to motivate people to change behaviors or develop skills, or to drive innovation.
  • Gamification focuses on enabling players to achieve their goals. When organizational goals are aligned with player goals, the organization achieves its goals as a consequence of players achieving their goals.

The rationale and implications of this updated definition are explained  in Gartner research, Redefine Gamification to Understand Its Opportunities and Limitations (available to Gartner clients only) and in my book, Gamify: How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things.


Category: Gamification GAMIFY     Tags:

G-A-M-I-F-Y has (almost) Arrived!

by Brian Burke  |  March 28, 2014  |  3 Comments


My new book GAMIFY is about to be released (April 8), but in fact, the hard copy version is already shipping on To celebrate, I’m offering 20 copies (digital or hardcover) to the first 20 people who post on Twitter with the hashtag #GartnerGamify. After you post your tweet, make sure to follow me @brian__burke on Twitter so that I can send you a direct message asking for shipping details.

Be quick – this offer will go fast! I hope the winners enjoy the book, and continue to spread the word about the power of gamification.



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In 2014, Enterprise Architects Must Play Both Foundational and Vanguard Roles

by Brian Burke  |  January 17, 2014  |  Comments Off

Gartner’s survey of more than 2,300 CIOs highlights the need to respond to the dual goals of effectiveness and digitalization. CIOs understand the need to build digital leadership, but 42 percent don’t feel they have the talent for a digital future. According to Gartner VP and Fellow Dave Aron, “2014 will be a year of dual goals: responding to on-going needs for efficiency and growth, but also shifting to exploit a fundamentally different digital paradigm. Ignoring either of these is not an option.” To succeed, CIOs will need bimodal capability, to manage traditional IT, while exploiting non-linear digitalization opportunities.

The bimodal capability will be critical to the enterprise architecture teams. In 2013, we predicted “By 2016, 30% of global organizations will establish a clear role distinction between foundational and vanguard enterprise architects.” Enterprise architects will be challenged to develop the talent to deal with the non-linear digital future, while effectively managing the current estate at the same time. Developing these talents within the EA team will be critical to chief architects, and sourcing these talents externally remains a challenge. The 2013 Mercer Gartner IT Workforce Practices Survey reports that data architects and enterprise architects are the most difficult positions to recruit.

The shift to bimodal capabilities is top of mind as Betsy Burton and I plan the agendas for the EA Summits for 2014. The theme for the 2014 EA Summits is, “Lead Change and Deliver Business Outcomes in Today’s Digital Economy.” The summits will address the challenges and disruptions that enterprise architects will face as we move into the digital industrial economy. We will look at how trends like big data, gamification, smart machines and the internet of everything will drive the need for enterprise architects to digitally remaster the business.

Gartner Enterprise Architecture Summits 2014

May 21 – 22  |  London, UK

June 4 – 5  |  National Harbor, MD

I hope to see you there.

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Emerging Technologies Open New Horizons for Gamification

by Brian Burke  |  January 16, 2014  |  1 Comment

Gamification often combines real and virtual world experiences, but most often the interface is a limited to the capabilities of a smartphone or a wearable monitor such as the Nike+ FuelBand. Advances in human interface technologies such as head mounted displays, augmented reality, natural language interfaces and gesture control are beginning to provide entirely new opportunities for bridging the real and virtual worlds and enabling more natural and immersive gamified experiences.

We have already seen some examples of the combination of gamification and advanced interfaces with gesture control technologies such as Kinect for Xbox 360. Gesture control technologies can ‘see’ how you are moving, analyse your posture and coach you more effectively. While the technology is still evolving, it is being used in gamified training solutions such as Nike+ Kinect Training and physical rehabilitation solutions such as the Jintronix platform.

Head mounted displays like Google Glass will provide new opportunities for gamified solutions by enabling augmented reality to be seamlessly integrated. Imagine running in a virtual race where you can see other (virtual) runners, or where you are being chased by zombies. That’s exactly what ‘Race Yourself’ is planning to do. Combining the augmented reality features of Google Glass, with the motivation of gamification, it is a great example of what the next generation of gamified solutions will look like.

Kinect and Glass are two examples of how advanced human interface technologies can enable a more immersive gamified experience. As these and other human interface technologies continue to improve in quality, and become more affordable, the barriers between real and virtual worlds will shrink, and new opportunities for gamified solutions will become possible.  For a vision of what that might look like, check out the Sight video. It is a great futuristic film that demonstrates some of the potential for combining gamification with advanced interface technologies and blurring the boundaries of the real and virtual worlds.

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The Limits of Gamification in the Workplace

by Brian Burke  |  January 14, 2014  |  2 Comments

In the Wall Street Journal article, “The ‘Gamification’ of the Office Approaches”, Farhad Manjoo is justifiably concerned about the growing trend for managers to try to turn work into a game by simply adding points, badges and leaderboards. Manjoo observes, “Getting people to do things they don’t really want to do turns out to be a key mission of workplace gamification.” The concerns that are raised in the article highlight some of the common misbeliefs about gamification,  which is one of the reasons that gamification is currently at the peak of inflated expectations on the Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies. Organizations that attempt to use gamification as a means of manipulating and exploiting employees will ultimately fail with those efforts.

In employee facing solutions, the sweet spot for gamification is where the manager’s goals and the employee’s goals are aligned. In these cases, gamification can be used to motivate employees to achieve their goals, resulting in a win for both the employee and the manager. Designing a gamified experience that truly engages employees requires a deep understanding of employee goals. But many managers are simply blind to employee goals, or choose to focus on their own goals. They are missing the point.

Gamification is not useful for making people work harder, but it can be used to encourage people to work better. The example Manjoo cites is a good one. Sales contests are designed to increase sales productivity, usually by enticing sales people with some tangible reward. While sales contest have proven to achieve results, I would not consider those to be examples of gamification. Rather, they are simply rewards programs – a payback scheme for getting people to work harder. Alternatively, gamification can be used to nudge salespeople to enter client information, assess the quality of sales leads, and follow-up after sales meetings. Following these steps leads to a more effective sales process, benefiting both the salesperson and the company.

Managers who are considering using gamification in the workplace need to clearly understand the opportunities and limitations of gamification. The best place for a manager to start is by understanding employee goals and how they align to organizational goals. If you can figure that out, you are in a good place to start thinking about how to design a gamified experience that will encourage employees to achieve their goals.


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What’s Next: The Gamification of Everything

by Brian Burke  |  January 27, 2011  |  1 Comment

Gamification is set to become a important trend, impacting many areas of business and society.  Gamification can be described as the application of game mechanics to non-game environments.  The gamification of social networking and location based services as exemplified by Foursquare, Gowalla and SCVNGR are probably the most recognizable with badges, mayorships and rewards offered for check-ins.  Game mechanics has also been applied to engage people, change behaviours and innovate in many different fields including innovation management, health, training, employee performance, and even social issues.  But it’s still early days and many people have not yet realized how this trend will affect their organization and their industry.  But I think that is going to change.

At Gartner, we’ve been doing a lot of research lately on how gamification is being applied to engage stakeholders, improve performance and drive innovation.  We recently highlighted gamification in our CIO New Year’s Resolutions, 2011 as one of the trend-leading technologies that CIOs must get ‘hands-on’ experience with (Note: links to Gartner research are accessible to Gartner clients only).  You can find more detailed background research on gamification in the research note Gamification Primer: Life Becomes a Game.

There are a some examples of organizations that are leveraging these techniques to drive innovation from ideation to a business case.  In a recently published research note, Case Study: Innovation Squared: The Department for Work and Pensions Turns Innovation Into a Game, we’ve described how the Department for Work and Pensions in the U.K. has leveraged game mechanics to create a market for innovation called IdeaStreet.  Leveraging the collective to drive innovation is just one of the many areas that gamification is being applied.  Customer loyalty is the primary application that is driving this trend, but there are many other applications that we will explore in our future research. 

One such application could be enterprise architecture. I can envision a future where employees, partners and even customers are collaborating to optimize the enterprise architecture using a sophisticated but easy to use enterprise architecture tool.  In another recently published research note Play to Win: Crowdsourcing Innovative Future-State EA Models Through Gameplay we explore a future where innovation and enterprise architecture is largely decentralized, and innovative architecture models are crowdsourced using gamified modelling tools.  As I’ve been saying for a few years, enterprise architecture is no longer a puzzle, it’s now a game and enterprise architects need to start to think like game designers.

The gamification of innovation and enterprise architecture is a natural extension of design thinking as it is a human-centric and engaging means of harnessing the power of the collective to drive innovation and change.  I believe that game mechanics are going to have a huge impact on the way organizations engage stakeholders, innovate and evolve, and we are just now on the leading edge of that trend.  More to come!

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Category: Gamification     Tags: ,

EA Summit London – That’s a Wrap!

by Brian Burke  |  May 19, 2010  |  Comments Off

We closed out another great EA Summit in London yesterday!  Dave Aron delivered an insightful talk on how to leverage business model analogies to bring some new ideas to the business strategy planning table. 

And to wrap it up, Andy Kyte discussed how to overhaul a bloated application portfolio and of course applied all of his talents for delivering great research in a very entertaining way.

I had a meeting with a delegate today who told me that they have been asked to cut their IT budget by 40%.  I thought the worst was over in this downturn!

First ash clouds threatened our delegate’s arrival and now a strike by British Airways crew threatens their departure – I hope our delegates get home without too much disruption today.  Thanks to all of our delegates and sponsors for coming to the Summit and making this a great event.

We will be back next year with the EA Summit 2011 on the 9th – 10th May at the Park Plaza hotel in  London.  I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

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EA Summit London – Day One

by Brian Burke  |  May 17, 2010  |  Comments Off

We’ve had a great kick-off today to the EA Summit in London.  Nick Gall presented on Hybrid Thinking and how to apply this approach to build up solutions rather than decompose problems.  This is an entirely new way of looking at enterprise architecture and will be a major focus of our research in the future.  Later in the morning, Chris Wilson did a sort of flashcard quiz with the Summit sponsors which was both entertaining and informative.  I think the audience loved it.

René Doursat from the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) in Paris delivered an insightful presentation on EA and Self-Organization that compared IT with self-organizing biological systems.  My favorite quote was to ‘organize bottom up not belly up.’

Check out some photos of the event  here

I met up with some of the EA tool vendors on the solution showcase floor and had several interesting discussions on the future of EA tools.  The consensus was that tools are moving up the food chain to become more adept at planning business driven change.

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Welcome EA Summit London

by Brian Burke  |  May 17, 2010  |  Comments Off

Despite threats from the ash cloud, we’ve arrived and successfully kick-off the EA Summit in London this morning.  We’ve got a tremendous agenda lined up that I’m sure people will find the conference enlightening.  I’m especially looking forward to meeting with conference delegates, vendors and colleagues over the next couple of days at the EA Summit.  A couple of reminders for people at the Summit

-          Tweet your thoughts about the Summit on Twittter, using the hashtag #GartnerEA

-          We would appreciate it if you can take a few minutes to complete the survey at the Gartner Real Time Research centre

-          If you’ve tried to register for a roundtable session and found it fully booked, please check back before the session as there are always a few no-shows and we may be able to allow additional participants at the beginning of the session.

Most of all, have a great time!

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EA Summit Las Vegas – Day Three

by Brian Burke  |  April 17, 2010  |  Comments Off

We’ve just wrapped up the EA Summit in Las Vegas and it seems to have been a very positive experience for everyone. The Gartner analysts and our case study speakers were very happy with the level of sophistication of the audience – great questions, comments and challenges.  Many attendees had positive comments on both the leading edge research that was presented on hybrid thinking, hyperconnected enterprises and pattern based strategy.   The sessions that seemed to be most in demand were those that focused on practical and straightforward advice on how to be successful in EA, both from Gartner and from real world practitioners.  The Open Research Meeting at the close was lively and controversial as always. 

I understand that some of the attendees made a donation at the casino last night, and a few looked a little tired at the 7:30am sessions this morning.  The only other downside to the Summit is that several of our European based clients and analysts will have a few extra days in Vegas before flights resume to Europe.  But – is that really so terrible?  As for me, I’m looking forward to spending a couple of days winding down in Vancouver before I go back to Barcelona.

There’s only a few weeks left until the EA Summit in London, which promises to be as great as the Vegas version.  I’m really looking forward hearing René Doursat talk about Architecture and Self-Organization.  The rapid fire sessions and workshops will add a new twist to the London edition as well.  I hope to see you there!

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