Big Data to Save Gamification?

*Note: This post is credited to Ankit Shah (helped lead classroom and educational gamification initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania under Prof. Werbach) for giving me the topic idea. Follow him @AnkitAShah

Looks like gamification has met yet another challenge, but this time it isn’t as simple as convincing managers that games help efficiency and productivity. With all the advocates preaching gamification to be the next biggest thing since sliced bread, there has been an overinflating of hype and expectations. Gartner has predicted that about 80% of gamified solutions will fail in reaching business objectives by 2014 due to poor design. Their article claims by using the Gartner Hype Cycle that gamification needs to figure out ways to move past “the peak of inflated expectations” so it can be on the path to mainstream adoption.

What is the best way to improve gamification? Aside from complementary solutions such as gaining an overall better understanding of behavioral sciences and usability in order to implement better User Experience (UX) design, the best chance gamification has at improving its results is “Big Data”. Big Data is under the umbrella of Business Intelligence and is defined by the International Data Corp. as new generation “technologies and architectures, designed to economically extract value from very large volumes of a wide variety of data by enabling high-velocity capture, discovery and/or analysis.” The IDC expects spending on Big Data to be about $16.9 billion by 2015, an increase from the $3.2 billion spent in 2010. This increase is for good reason. Having worked in Big Data before, I have seen the potential benefits it has of analyzing large volumes of data in statistically significant ways. What this means for gamification is that B2C loyalty and B2E productivity/efficiency can help companies better understand the behaviors of customers and employees respectively. The ‘3V’ model of volume and variety combined with velocity will improve feedback to both consumers and companies—one of the core values of gamification.