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Companies can use gamification as a doorway to innovation

March 6, 2012 06:53 AM ET

By 2015, 50% of corporate innovation will be gamified, according to research firm Gartner. And in that same year, U.S. corporations will spend as much as $2.5 billion on gamification applications, half of which will be targeted at their own employees, Zichermann said.

For example, Charlie Kim, CEO of NextJump, wanted to encourage his employees to use the corporate gym because he felt it would better their health and lead to improved productivity and a happier workforce. NextJump began by offering a $20,000 reward to the five employees who used the gym the most in one year. The incentive program boosted gym use from about 3% of the workforce to 12%.

Then Kim made a game of it, and challenged teams of employees to hit the gym with the promise that they would split the same $20,000 pot. The social value in being on the best team raised the number of employees using the gym to 85%, Zichermann said.

Zichermann also pointed to Ananth Pai, a public school teacher at Parkview Centerpoint Elementary School in Minnesota, who turned groups of failing third-graders into overachievers who attained fourth-grade-level reading and math skills using old Nintendo games.

Pai used off-the-shelf learning games on Nintendo DS systems to make learning fun, so much so that students even played in their free time. "Could you imagine if your employees played in their free time?" he said. "Can you imagine the productivity? What would your products look like?"

covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at Twitter @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed Mearian RSS. His email address is

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