Over the years implementing enterprise software there is a mantra I have come to softly chant during planning sessions Whats in it for me (WIIFM).  Empathy with the end users allows us techs to build systems people actually use.   Which is why I was excited at the arrival of enterprise gamification cited by a recent Forbes article as a killer trend for 2012.  Products like Rypple and Nitro for Salesforce assist in gameful design that focus on what the participants will get out of completing the business process.

The workings of game dynamics and mechanics are well summarised by Bunchball in this simple matrix, the idea is to use the learnings from games to build mechanics into processes that cater to the needs of different types of participants.

Game Dynamics from Bunchball

Apart from obvious applications like HCM and sales compensation management, this Forrester perspective thinks the most effective usages encourage employees to learn new skills and use their skills in new areas outside their job spec, this is perhaps why collaboration tools like Chatter have been drawn to gamification earlier than traditional business applications like ERP.

JP Ramaswami (confused of calcutta) sees it as a natural evolution of the way we now work in collaborative leaderless environments, game mechanics provides a set of tools that can help bring order and meaning to this unstructured environment.

But how do we incorporate game design into our next enterprise project? Dan Debow thinks game design needs to adopt a cycle of listen, design, release, observe and refine (Work Better Play Better together – slides).  Will we see a new job role of game designer join our project office alongside our social media strategist?  Force.com applications like Nitro from Bunchball and aquisition of technology from Rypple promise the emergence of development platforms which expose gaming services on top of the already powerful social platforms that are available such as chatter, exciting times for enterprise developers who have long looked longingly at the consumer web startups for their sparkly innovation.

Beyond the sparkle of the level-up, gamification has matured enough to know its limitations.  Rajat Paharia says virtual goods and badges only get you so far (So You’re the Mayor on Foursquare. Now What – video).  Stefano Mizzela chooses the oft quoted words of Einstein (Digital Academia – slides) “Not Everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted” at some point you need to solve the original problem during the design phase …

Whats in it for me?