As an avid gamer, I was none too happy when I first heard that gaming was being co-opted by the corporate world. Gaming was something which I associated with relaxing after work or if I was really in the mood for ‘standing up to the man’ then by playing solitaire on the office laptop during working hours. Now rather than being associated with stimulation and fun, it was going to make its entrance in the rather more staid, business world under the garb of ‘gamification’. What would the management gurus come up with next, I thought- comic-ification or sport-ification?

By now, we have all heard the hype about gamification, and how the new generation of millenials; having been brought-up on a diet of video games now expect the same experience in the workplace. Gamification seeks in order to keep them engaged and extract the maximum productivity by bringing gaming elements into the workplace. According to Gartner, they predict over 70 Percent of Global 2000 organisations will have at least one Gamified Application by 2014. So that sounds good, right?

When I began gaming, way back in the early 90s, most games were side-scrolling 2D games, where the game pulled you along in a defined way, and you were rewarded as you achieved certain targets or levels – this can be compared to the status of gamification in the workplace today. With most of our clients, I see that gamification is largely restricted to leaderboards or the awarding of badges and points for achieving predefined targets in business processes. This has definitely helped in improving these areas – at one call centre, for instance, it was seen that call handling times fell by 15%, whilst sales improved by 8 to 12% for certain sales agents; but they have been largely isolated initiatives. Even the Gartner report only talks about organizations having at least one application gamified, hardly something which will transform the enterprise

What games today, such as Uncharted 3 or GTA IV or Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOs), strive to achieve is a complete immersive gaming experience, where you control your character/avatar as they move within a complete environment; there are tasks to do, but you can also explore and discover on your own, and uncover hidden ‘secrets’. And this is exactly where gamification in the workplace needs to go and BPM can help drive us to this next level. Gamification can be used to encourage people in the day-to-day job, but should also inspire them in other areas such as learning and innovation. We can learn from online, multi-player gaming in which gamers often collaborate and cooperate to complete tasks and solve puzzles. BPM with its ability to orchestrate enterprise-wide processes can help deliver this immersive experience. In areas, such as innovation which require knowledge workers to collaborate, then a flexible platform like BPM can seamlessly facilitate this. Even when it comes to process development and innovation, there is a lot of scope for gamification-enabled BPM as a modelling and collaboration platform

What organizations need to do is look at how they want to incorporate gamification specifically for their unique needs, and use game designers to realize this vision. BPM can provide the platform for this, and we have been seeing BPMS providers incorporating basic gamification elements, we expect this to continue and accelerate. If this happens, then gamification-enabled BPM (or should it be BPM-enabled gamification?!) may be the key to delivering a truly immersive experience, and in the process deliver a superior workplace experience for the modern employee. And in which case I will look forward to the next “-ification” with rather less scepticism!