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Business Skill Gamification: Successes Enable Innovation and Greater Engagement

By Dick Weisinger

Business gamification — engaging employees in a way such that they learn or perform their jobs by playing games.  The idea is to turn a job into a game that can provide both engagement and motivation well beyond the incentives that are provided by performing the tasks of a traditional job.  High employee engagement would improve productivity and learning, a win for employers, while employees feel both satisfaction and fun at the same time — seemingly a double win situation.

Sounds like a joke or something that just isn’t possible to implement?  Maybe.  Gartner says that despite high amounts of hype around gamification, 80 percent of business gamification projects ultimately fail.

Brian Burke, research vice president at Gartner, said that a reason for the high failure rate is that “the focus is on the obvious game mechanics, such as points, badges and leader boards, rather than the more subtle and more important game design elements, such as balancing competition and collaboration, or defining a meaningful game economy.  As a result, in many cases, organizations are simply counting points, slapping meaningless badges on activities and creating gamified applications that are simply not engaging for the target audience. Some organizations are already beginning to cast off poorly designed gamified applications.”

But what about the 20 percent of the time where business gamification has worked?  One area where ‘gamification’ has had success is with simulation.  Think of airplane pilot simulation.  Security training is also an area that looks promising.

Consider a recent game offered by PwC called “Game of Threats”.  It’s a computer came that simulates what happens during a cyber breach of a business.  The users work together on a team to defend the business infrastructure from another set of players who carry out threats.  The tool lets participants experience both sides of a cyber attack and in doing so become more aware of how to prepare against and to react to security threats.

Pat Moran, cybersecurity lead partner at PwC, said that “the key to what we are doing is helping non-IT people understand the nature of a threat, what it looks like and means for their organization. The object is to change that, get them more involved in readiness and realise what calls need to be made when an incident happens, not if.”



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