Turning Business Into Pleasure

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By 2013, it's estimated that more than half of all enterprises will include gamification as part of their social business initiatives, according to a report by Constellation Research, a specialty research and advisory firm, which surveyed 55 early adopters of the strategy.

Gamification, the use of game design techniques and mechanics to engage audiences and make mundane tasks (such as completing surveys, filling out forms, filing taxes, or reading content on Web sites) more engaging, has strong potential in the business world, according to the report, titled "Demystifying Enterprise Gamification for Business."

The report outlines six key elements that drive engagement by individuals, groups, and communities: intrigue, reward, fun, challenge, community, and status. Gamification, in a sense, is the lens through which an enterprise can see "what people are interested in and what do you want them to do?" says Ray Wang, principal analyst and CEO of Constellation Research.

Gamification can help you understand "lineage," Wang explains, or the context surrounding a particular action or outcome, which can help with "decision support."

Within the enterprise environment, monetary incentives could serve as attractors and ignite early interest, but this might not necessarily contribute to long-term, sustainable outcomes.

According to the report, the use of gamification platforms spans professional roles, with 21.8 percent of chief sales officers and 27.3 percent of chief marketing officers among the earliest adopters. Enterprise gamification can come in handy in human resources and IT capacities as well.

Users must also be challenged by increasing levels of difficulty to encourage improvement and a sense of accomplishment, the report notes.

A Guide to the Players

Badgeville: This Menlo Park, Calif.–based social loyalty and gamification platform developer helps drive and measure user behavior with social game mechanics.

Bunchball: This San Jose, Calif.–based company offers a Nitro gamification platform and analytics solution.

BigDoor: This Seattle-based start-up provides gamification technology to nongaming Web sites.

CrowdTwist: This New York–based loyalty platform developer lets users earn points for their online activity.

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