Gamification for Innovation

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The enterprise gamification and innovation blending are largely unexplored. Arguably due to the fact that gamification is still in its infancy, writes professor Moutaz Haddara.Foto: Nolimit46
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    6. april 2022

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    • Technology
    • Innovation
    • Gamification
  • Skrevet av

  • Sist oppdatert

    6. april 2022

  • Kategori

  • Tema

    • Technology
    • Innovation
    • Gamification


The quest for innovation has more competitors than ever. The entrance of Netflix disrupted the DVD rental industry with such force that Blockbuster closed their business for good. The German pharmacy-chain Schlecker filed for bankruptcy after being ousted by the new no-frills retail approach. Apple’s rise led to the fall of Nokia - the plethora of examples goes on.  

The tales of demise are all different; some were a result of product innovation, a selection was a consequence of pricing innovation, others fell due to business model innovation. In order to be safe from defeat, organizations cannot merely innovate parts of their business; innovation must permeate the whole operation end-to-end. 

What is Gamification? 

Innovation literature widely agrees that while there are several tools available for elevating innovation activities within a business, however there is a lack of specification as to how gamification can be used for enterprise or process innovation.  

This article seeks to present the current arguments in research addressing the potential of creating innovation-fostering environments in businesses through gamification techniques.  

Our main findings suggest that gamification techniques have the potential to create a bridge between the sociological and technical aspects within enterprises’ culture.  

While the concept of it is not new, the term “Gamification” has recently started to receive attention, and this attention is bringing along promising opportunities. Zichermann & Cunningham (2011) define gamification as the process of using game-thinking and gaming elements and mechanics to involve audiences and solve problems.  

In a nutshell, it is the use of game-mechanics in a non-gaming context. Game elements and mechanics may involve tasks and challenges, leaderboards, points and XPs, statuses, rewards, levels, among others. 

Why Gamification is a big thing? 

People love to play, challenge others, be good at things, and have fun! Thus, there is no surprise in knowing that the global gaming market size is around 2.69 billion gamers, and was valued at USD 173.70 billion in 2020, and it is expected to reach a value of USD 314.40 billion by 2026, registering a compound annual growth rate of 9.64% over 2021-2026.  

According to International Data Corporation (IDC) data, the videogame industry is a bigger moneymaker than the global movie and North American sports industries combined. That’s one of the reasons that pushed NETFLIX to introduce its own gaming platform in November 2021 for free for its members, to probably attract gamers to register for memberships. 

Based on statistics published by the Entertainment Software Association, over 65% American households play games, with the average age being 35 years old, and almost evenly split on both female and male players, and ca. 65% of gamers like to play with others.  

Gaming in a non-gaming context 

How can we translate this dedication to gaming in a non-gaming context? In our case; the different enterprise systems in organizations. Enter gamification, which is a tool to increase engagement from employees at work, by utilizing design principles from gaming.  

Gamification has had a surge of popularity in the information systems (IS) field, and there has been a push in using these concepts in enterprise systems. Reasons for the rising popularity is theorized to be due to cheaper technology and the success and prevalence of the game medium.  

Potential of Gamification for Organizations 

The enterprise gamification and innovation blending are largely unexplored. Arguably due to the fact that gamification is still in its infancy.  

In general, manifesting the concepts of gamification into technical features is a complex task, and it is rational to start with the more straightforward dimensions of gamification whilst exploring the concept. This is usually referred to as the front-end of gamification; user engagement and motivation.   

Still, the secondary effects of gamification, or the back-end of it, do indeed carry an untapped potential. This is an opportunity for organizations to gain a first-mover advantage. Pioneers in the application and use of the back-end of gamification can gain a competitive edge in their existing business models.  

The loud absence of understanding these potentials also presents an opportunity to gain and sell such expertise as a service to businesses. Much like Amazon started selling expertise in server hosting as a service after they succeeded with their initial business model, which focused solely on online book retailing.  

Key ingredients to innovation  

Games are built upon engagement and imagination, which are key ingredients to innovation. Hence, gamification in enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems can be a promising solution to the flexibility versus control issue in innovation.  

ERP systems allow businesses to have control and knowledge of their current business processes whilst keeping them integrated. Introducing gamification elements in the business through ERP systems can add innovation-fostering characteristics to those processes.  

If done in a conscious manner, this can potentially set in motion a culture allowing for more natural and continual innovation of a product or service, price model, business processes, business model and everything in between. 

Gamification applications in a business setting  

One of the most important aspects of gamification is the fact that it happens outside a well-defined space. Businesses that let themselves be inspired by this can incorporate the same trait to their innovation activities. It presents an opportunity to allow for exploration and idea-generation processes for other parts of the business than only the R&D departments.  

The key factors in relation to improving the gamification design processes revolves around improved ideation and prototyping, facilitating learning opportunities, using more meaningful design features, and most relevantly, developing innovative mechanics. However, as the current research confirms, to be innovative or to create an innovative environment is hard to make feasible.  

The guidelines and principles mostly refer to ensuring the presence of abstract traits like flexibility, freedom, exploration etc. Gamification theory aims towards achieving much of the same traits in the process of creating games.  

Further research should therefore try and test whether these gamification practices are applicable to business processes. The amount of studies attempting to pinpoint models that can aid in gamification applications in business setting, demonstrate the need to make business models more feasible and applicable.  

IDEAS Lab at Kristiania University College: 

The Innovation & Digitalization for Businesses And Society Laboratory (IDEAS Lab) at Høyskolen Kristiania focuses on Innovation research in general, and Gamification applications in specific. For more info visit 


Humlung, O., & Haddara, M. (2019). The hero’s journey to innovation: gamification in enterprise systems. Procedia Computer Science, 164, 86-95.98)  

Algashami, A., Vuillier, L., Alrobai, A., Phalp, K., & Ali, R. (2019). Gamification risks to enterprise teamwork: taxonomy, management strategies and modalities of application. Systems, 7(1), 9. 

Zichermann, G., & Cunningham, C. (2011). Gamification by design: Implementing game mechanics in web and mobile apps. " O'Reilly Media, Inc.". 

This popular research article is first published in the Future Issue of Kunnskap Kristiania 2022-03.  The article is an edited excerpt from Humlung, O., & Haddara, M. (2019). The hero’s journey to innovation: gamification in enterprise systems. Procedia Computer Science, 164, 86-95.98) 

Text: Oda Humlung, MSc Information Systems, and professor Moutaz Haddara, School of Economics, Innovation and Technology. Haddara is director of IDEAS Lab at Kristiania. 

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