Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Gamification Consulting Boom of 2012

     Most of the buzz these days is around the raft new gamification start-ups and a smaller number of established players. These companies are the ones who are raising capital and building the products and platforms that will sustain this fast growing market (see my previous post on Enterprise Gamification Going Mainstream).  But professional services is one of the overlooked parts of the gamification ecosystem, and as the industry heats up, we should expect consulting to be the next big growth area.

     We've seen this all before in the enterprise space. Take a look any out-of-the-box product built over the last 20 years (ERP systems, document management solutions, SaaS CRM applications, or the current crop of cloud-based services). While the companies behind these products aspired to provide world-class self-service platforms, inevitably only the smallest companies with the most vanilla implementations have been successful on their own.

     There is no reason to think that Gamification will be any different. As Kris Duggan, CEO of gamification company Badgeville, recently told the Wall Street Journal, "adding gamification to the workplace drives performance but it doesn't make up for bad management. If you are a bad manager, gamification won't help you."

     The Journal article went on to say, "Companies need to make sure that the games are designed to actually reward desired behaviors and are not just doling out meaningless awards or badges.  Firms also need to make sure that friendly competition doesn't get out of hand, fostering animosity among employees."

     In other words, there's a right way to do gamification and there's a wrong way.
     Like all enterprise implementations before them, successful gamification projects will require a thorough understanding of the following:
  1. how the project fits into the client's strategy;
  2. how the project integrates into the client's organization, partner ecosystem, and IT infrastructure;
  3. how to implement specific game mechanics and dynamics in support of each client's goals; and
  4. how to monitor, maintain and update the system in real-time
All of this points to the need to develop consulting and professional services capabilities within the industry to help clients work through these complex issues.

     So in 2012, look for existing consulting groups to develop these capabilities as a natural outgrowth current practices (in areas like interactive media, learning services, or compensation and incentives), for more and more boutique firms to appear, and for service providers to create expert services groups as their platforms mature and gain traction.

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Attribution:  The cartoon in this post was adapted from the Geek and Poke original under this creative commons license.

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