A Taxonomy of How Enterprises Play

I recently came across an interesting article by researchers from the RMIT University in Australia. The researchers were interested in creating a taxonomy of the enterprise gamification industry. They were interested in understanding how the market understood gamification solutions and in investigating the claim of high failure rates of gamification projects (Gartner 2012 – see what we wrote about that here). in order to identify probable causes and potential solutions. Finally, the researchers felt that as part of the information systems sector, where taxonomies are prevalent, gamification was in need of a taxonomy in order for it to be able to integrate with other similar software in the enterprise.

The researchers came to some really interesting insights. I’ll go over them briefly here, but it’s worth reading the actual article here, to get in to the finer details.

Primary purposes of gamification software in the enterprise

The researchers found 17 different purposes for gamification software:

  • education;
  • entertainment;
  • innovation;
  • staff productivity;
  • sales and marketing;
  • PR/promotions;
  • recruitment;
  • operational process efficiency;
  • training and skill development;
  • problem solving;
  • motivation and morale;
  • build community;
  • customer loyalty;
  • events;
  • safety and compliance;
  • social or community good;
  • information and awareness raising.

In a later analysis the researchers aggregated these purposes into the six following categories and represented their portion of solutions:

  1. Customer loyalty 18%
  2. Marketing, sales and promotion 16%
  3. Education, training, and recruitment 18%
  4. Innovation and problem solving 19%
  5. Community good or development 12%
  6. staff morale, motivation and productivity 15%

The researchers mention that this relatively even spread of purposes shows that businesses and organizations are experimenting with enterprise gamification across a broad range of business areas.

Target audiences for enterprise gamification

These were the target audiences that the researchers found:

  • Internal staff;
  • Customers, clients or patients;
  • Suppliers;
  • Industry or community specific;
  • General market or public

The general market or public consists of 37% of the target audience, while external customers, clients or patients are responsible for 33%. These two major target audiences are followed by internal staff (19%), industry or community (9%), and suppliers (1%).

Technology approaches

A total of eight technology strategies were identified: digital game; digital simulation; vendor platform (API or plugin); custom platforms or operating systems; simple modification products; significant modification products; playful experience with no or low levels of technology; playful experience with high levels of technology.

The researchers found that the largest sub category is platforms, which forms 46% of the market and is equally divided between vendor solutions (23%) and self-built systems (23%). Other sub categories include digital games (19%), simulations (6%), playful experiences (8%) and product or service feature modifications (20%).

Types of gameplay and key game mechanics in enterprise gamification

A total of 12 common core gameplay types were identified: territory acquisition; social; prediction; spatial navigation; survival; destruction; building; collection; chasing or evading; racing; trading; puzzle or problem-solving prediction; spatial navigation; survival; destruction; building; collection; chasing or evading; racing; trading; puzzle or problem-solving.

Collection of points or other items to build scores was the most prevalent form of gameplay (57%). Other less common but important forms of gameplay were prediction (6%), survival (5%) puzzle or problem solving (10%), and social/role play (3%).

10 key game mechanics were identified: status, success, recognition; achievements (badges, trophies); points; leaderboards; social (friend, connect, chat); progression; experiences; narrative; missions and quests; currency, rewards (real or virtual).

Game mechanics were fairly evenly spread according to the researches. Points consisted of 43% of the mechanics, badges and trophies were used 52% of the time. These two major uses were followed by currency and rewards (35%) and missions and quests (29%).

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