Gartner talks up gamification, but warns of pitfalls

News Jane McCallion Feb 8, 2013
Gamification word cloud
Gamification word cloud

Companies must understand how gamification works before they try to implement it, analyst firm claims

Most gamification initiatives fail as companies do not have a clear idea of what they want to achieve or how to achieve it, Gartner research vice president Brian Burke has said.

“I come across companies who say they are going to introduce gamification, but when you ask them why they respond ‘because it is a trend’,” Burke told journalists during a round table event.

With gamification approaching the peak of inflated expectations in Gartner’s hype cycle, it is perhaps not surprising to come across such attitudes.

Therefore, Burke said, it is important businesses understand what gamification is used for and how to get the best from it, in order to avoid disappointment.

“Really you [should] use gamification to motivate people to do three things: change behaviour, develop skills, or participate in and drive innovation,” Burke explained.

While changing behaviour is the most common use of the technology, Burke said it can be used across any combination of these three areas, or just one of them, depending on what the organisation wants to achieve.

Burke also said it was important for gamification initiatives to be ‘opt-in’ in order to be successful.

“Forced march gamification, although it is done, has some inherent risks,” he said.

Burke added that in addition to being ‘opt-in’, the most successful gamified applications focus on motivating the player to achieve their objectives, rather than trying to force them to do something through coercion.

“When you look at successful gamification, those gamified applications are built around enabling the players to succeed and the incidental benefits are beneficial for the organisation that is the sponsor of the game,” Burke said.

“[Conversely] by 2014, we predict 80 per cent of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives, primarily due to poor design ... or being positioned in a way that does not meet business objectives,” he added.

Nevertheless, Gartner predicts that by 2015 40 per cent of Fortune Global 1000 companies will be using gamification in some aspect of their business.

“It is definitely something that is going to continue to grow and we will see more and more deployments over the coming years,” concluded Burke.