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Sales and Marketing Software

With Microsoft on board, is gamification about to pass Go?

Gamification is one of those trends that has existed more in the front of minds of media, analysts and other pundits than in reality. But that could change with Microsoft’s agreement to buy Incent Games, the maker of FantasySalesTeam, an app that takes its cues from fantasy sports leagues to encourage sales teams to sell more or to hit other KPI metrics.

Gamification as a concept has been around for a while now. Google Trends shows interest in it starting from late 2010 and spiking in 2014.

gamification-graph

Now, to use the Gartner Hype Cycle, it might be heading for the “plateau of productivity” or at least the “slope of enlightenment”.

Sales teams have always had incentives and visual cues of course. Typically these have taken the form of office leader boards, targets and promises of what happens when those targets are hit. You might see gamification as a bells-and-whistles digital version of this, although supporters of the model say there are other incentives too, such as rewards for sharing knowledge, completing training sessions and so on.

Gamification has spawned startups such as California’s Bunchball while collaboration companies like JIVE Software and performance management players like NICE Systems have added Bunchball gamification to their tools. The segment has also attracted services companies such as Bluewolf.

Also it’s worth noting that this is not Microsoft’s first foray into gamification. The company’s Yammer collaboration software added gamification features last year after a tie-in with another gamification specialist, Badgeville. Who knows if with Microsoft’s integration of Xbox and HoloLens into Windows 10 there could be more to come?

Gamification looked for a while like a passing trend but in technology sometimes the real work gets done when the hype stops flying. Certainly Microsoft’s interest in the sector might give it some heft and lift games into the realm of business.

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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