Posted on behalf of James Denman:
Yesterday I wrote a couple of articles about the CamelOne 2012 event happening here in Boston. It's a two day event focused on open source application integration and messaging software. This is the second year FuseSource has hosted the event and this year it is twice as big as the original. This morning, I've already heard a couple of interesting sessions and even heard an inside rumor about a possible new project coming from Maven founder Jason van Zyl. There may be more about this later.
After listening to Gabe Zichermann's opening keynote this morning, I'm left with a fairly strong impression that the business applications of the future are going to have to compete with extremely popular internet phenomena like Facebook for workers' mindshare. According to Zichermann, gamification is becoming much more important because the games that our children are playing are making them much better at multitasking and picking up new skills than we ever were. This makes it harder to hold their attention and makes it seem to us older folks as though they have a lack of attention.
Zichermann explains this pattern using the concept of flow which is that feeling you get when you're really in the zone and the only thing you're really focused on is the screen in front of you, or the ball and goal in a sports match, or the road and cars around you on a long drive. Flow, according to Zichermann is the state in which a body is stimulated enough to not be bored, but not so stimulated that they get anxious.
The folks making games are dedicated to nothing but creating flow for their users. Enterprise application developers don't seem to make flow anything more than an afterthought. Enterprise application developers may not be able to let this trend continue much longer. Not to say that we haven't made strides in recent decades. It wasn't so long ago that many enterprise applications had text-based green-screen user interfaces. But today's business stakeholders won't except that level of flow now, and tomorrow's business leaders may well demand a user interface that makes completing repetitive business tasks as engaging as Twitter or Pinterest.
Of course, Zichermann stressed that gamification means applying the concepts that make games compelling to the point that users sit in front of them for hours on end (of their own free will) and not about making everything a game. "You don't want to make an 'Angry Birds, but for mufflers' or a 'Draw Something for ice cream'," Zicherman said, what we need instead is a user interface that makes the actual task itself, the business process, stimulating enough to keep workers from getting bored, without jarring them into anxiety. So although Foldit, the game that got average users to contribute to genetics research in incredibly effective ways, is a prime example of gamification, not every gamification effort needs to be so extreme.
That's my morning here at DayTwo of CamelOne 2012. Let me know what you think about gamification trends in the comments below.