2011 was an eventful year for the world of gamification. This year, the term itself finally went mainstream and started to make sense for consumers and business alike. Yet as we end the year and start another, what will gamification’s role look like in 2012? Will it continue to grow, or will it fall by the wayside like some other emerging industries have done in the past?

Before getting into gamification’s future, let’s revisit 2011. This was the year where a conversation about gamification didn’t require some preliminary education. Savvy marketers now understand that adding game mechanics to digital experiences can drastically improve engagement, participation, and loyalty. And this year gamification moved beyond campaigns and into healthcare, education, and the next great frontier – the enterprise.

It’s safe to say that gamification has finally gained traction, and will establish even more industry momentum as businesses start to see the meaningful results. In fact, we’ve just seen the tip of the gamification “iceberg”. Here are a few predictions on where gamification is going as we head into a brand new year.

  • Sales organizations get in the game. Gamifying CRM applications like Salesforce.com makes perfect sense: A large, very competitive group of individuals who are rewarded for achievements. Every sales organization has an incentive program, so why not use gamification to automate that program (and boost adoption and participation while you’re at it)? Nitro for Salesforce is live on the Salesforce.com AppExchange now.
  • Business collaboration gets a boost. Businesses are making significant investments to “socialize” the enterprise through platforms like Jive, Salesforce and Yammer. These platforms are feature-rich. So feature-rich, in fact, that getting users to take advantage of all the cool features can be daunting. How do you get employees to create profiles, share information, and dig in to all that these platforms offer? Reward them for doing so, and make their accomplishments public for their colleagues to see.
  • Online reputations get noticed. Through gamification, online communities can reward (and, in extreme cases, punish) users who participate in discourse. But how do you easily separate the good from the bad? You let your users tell you. Those users who consistently post informative, valuable information? Give them rewards based on favorable reaction, comments, etc. Those users whose posts receive negative reactions (or worse, no reactions) get nothing beyond being moved to the bottom of the queue, or removed all together.

Will gamification continue to grow in 2012? Bet on it. We’ve only seen a small part of what gamification can influence. Gamified marketing campaigns will still make sense, and entertainment sites like USA Network and Bravo TV will become more and more rewarding. But 2012 is the year of enterprise gamification, and it’s an exciting market with a lot of opportunities to explore and uncover. We believe that next year at this time we’ll have many stories to share that demonstrate how, in 2012, enterprises leveraged gamification to improve productivity, product adoption, and bottom-line results.

 

Editor's Note: Additional views on the digital future include: