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Gamification is a new form of persuasive marketing that is transforming the way companies do business, resulting in exceptional engagement with customers, employees and stakeholders.

If you have ever collected frequent flyer miles, participated in a loyalty programme to get a free buffet dinner, or been tempted to invite your friends to online stores where you earn rewards for customer referrals, or even given in to the urgency of making a purchase influenced by the active timer counting down the seconds until the offer expires, then you have been influenced by gamification for your purchase or participation decisions.

Gamification is the application of game theory and mechanics in different contexts to influence behaviour. Organisations are currently applying gamification externally to enhance customer engagement, innovation management and product development, ROI, data quality, speed of process, and internally for employee performance, incentivising employees, training and education, personal development, health and wellness, workflow management – and the list continues to grow.

Nike built the Nike+ platform to engage fitness enthusiasts to take their workouts to the next level. Khan Academy uses gamification to enhance the learning experience for students. Volkswagen used gamification in China, its largest and most important market, to crowd source ideas from consumers to develop new versions of the ‘people’s car.’ In order to understand the structure of proteins, scientists at the University of Washington in Seattle formulated an online puzzle game, Foldit. They invited 240,000 registered players of the game to configure the structure of an enzyme associated with the AIDS virus. Foldit players managed to find a solution to a problem in three weeks that scientists had been working on for 15 years.

Companies are leveraging the community power and allure of gaming – the human desire to compete against each other for points, including badges showing different levels of achievement, progress bars and meters, loyalty awards and leader boards by creating a shared sense of purpose, challenge and reward.

They are applying these mechanics to projects in order to boost branding, generate additional revenue streams, increase positive mindshare, enhance customer loyalty, motivate shoppers to buy and offer persuasive means for retaining and encouraging talent.

The market for gamification is projected to grow significantly in the coming years. Research from Gartner indicates that more than 70% of Global 2000 organisations will have at least one gamified application by 2014. Consequently, 2015 will see 40% of Global 1000 organisations using gamification as the principal means to transform business operations.  

– Fauzia Kerai Khan
The writer is Chief Consultant, i&b Consulting, Training, eLearning.

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on August 25, 2013.