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!