Gamification is gaining traction in a big way – the category was listed on more than a dozen Gartner Hype Cycles, the media buzz has hit a fever pitch and analysts continue to project the market to reach $2.8 billion by 2016.

And yet, while the hype continues, it is increasingly peppered with a layer of cynicism – the common thread in all this is, "okay, hot shot, I hear that you are pretty great - now PROVE IT." It is high time that we separate the myth from the reality:

2015 is the year that gamification will grow up.

It's time to separate the real solutions from the dabblers. Differentiate the good medicine from the snake oil. Sort the pragmatic strategists from the wishful thinkers. With that in mind, growing up starts here – and these are the gamification trends to keep an eye on:

1. The plethora of one-trick apps and "stunts" will finally be displaced by real solutions.

Done right, gamification is a powerful business tool – it blends strategy with a scalable platform that motivates ongoing engagement, business insights and ROI.

But, when it is done wrong, well, you can kiss your ROI good-bye. After an initial spike in interest, slap-dash programs fail to ignite any enduring or long term change. Why? Because they aim to trick your audience with short-term bribery, rather than respectfully engaging them in a win-win scenario that embraces their personal desire to succeed and be recognized for their contributions. If you only focus on badges, the result (if there is one) is fleeting, and the program gets abandoned with the other 80 percent of the gamification failures.

Business leaders are going to increasingly focus on the power of enterprise-class gamification platforms. It's becoming crystal clear that in order to succeed with gamification, you need to partner with a provider that not only understands the fundamentals of human motivation, the distinct motivators of your employees, but also possesses a scalable means for delivering enduring engagement, business insights and an ROI. It isn't quick, cheap or DIY – but it is highly effective and scalable.

2. Gamification will emerge as a competitive differentiator.

Over the past 5+ years, gamification has grown and continues to do so – it is an effective motivation strategy. And yet, it is also a source of differentiation.

Case in point: In its recent Magic Quadrant for Customer Engagement Center Workforce Optimization, Gartner1 called out gamification as a powerful force in employee satisfaction and productivity. The report concludes that effective gamification tools will be one of the crucial differentiators as workforce optimization software evolves – not surprisingly, the two leader quadrant competitors both had gamification. Who you partner with matters – in workforce optimization for sure, but in other organizations as well.

3. Gamification will permeate the enterprise.

Salespeople are competitive by nature, and that's one of the main reasons gamification was accepted so readily as an approach to enhance sales effectiveness.

But that doesn't mean gamification is only for sales.

Far from it.

At its core, gamification is a data-driven motivation strategy you can use to improve the performance of your organization across the board – in fact, a survey by the Aberdeen Group found that organizations who deploy gamification improve engagement by 48 percent and turnover by 36 percent. That means gamification can be customized to unlock your company's potential across all employees, all job titles and all departments.

4. Gamification will be recognized as effective with humans of all walks and ages — even into the C-Suite.

Gen Y frequently gets the "credit" as the generation that triggered the need for gamification. But let's be honest, the motivations of the "Trophy Generation" that grew up on gaming and Facebook actually aren't totally different from the rest of us.

In fact, gamification is proving to be a powerful motivator among competitive senior leaders as well. For example, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) used gamified social networks powered by Jive to inspire collaboration and co-creation with its global community of customers, partners and employees – including executives. Gamification motivates constructive conversation in these social communities and has helped generate valuable intellectual capital.

5. Data-driven motivation and engagement will become the new rally cry.

Big data has been big for years, but it has rarely been actionable. I believe enterprises will see gamification as more than game mechanics – they will begin to understand that powerful gamification platforms harness the data your employees, customers and partners are sending off and turn that data into actionable business insights.

1Magic Quadrant for Customer Engagement Center Workforce Optimization by Jim Davies, November 12, 2014

Source:   Bunchball