Gamification to become increasingly prevalent in the world of business

15 August 2017

Marcus Thornley, Founder of Play Consulting, a consultancy and digital product innovation studio based in London and Dublin, reflects on how gamification is re-wiring brains and shaping behaviours in society and business.

Gamification can sound a bit phony, or like a buzzword. You aren’t alone; many people who work in the mobile games industry will have never once heard or used the word. Instead, industry folk simply focus on making great gaming experiences that focus on the users and players. 

Outside of the mobile games industry, by deconstructing what games actually are and by applying a games mindset to solve real life challenges in businesses, people can see for themselves just how powerful game approaches can be within business. And, more than ever, people can see how influential this games mindset can be outside of the common understanding of ‘games’; consumers, business leaders and even the nature of work itself, are all receptive to and driven by the triggers, stimuli and approaches that are all found in games.

Moreover, for reasons set out below, this trend is only going to speed up and become more prevalent in the world of business. 

Gamification will become increasingly prevalent in the world of business

A games mindset will revolutionise business

The notion that a games mindset and the use of game approaches has the ability to revolutionise engagement, motivation and behaviour has already been proven. At digital product innovation companies, such as Play Consulting, people are doing it day in and day out, across healthcare sectors, financial services, media, utilities and retail.

But this doesn’t mean that the use of game mechanisms, such as leaderboards, points, challenges, levels and badges, are able to make any difference on their own. Only once you understand the core of a product or service, and that the focus should be on the user/player and solving real life problems for real people, are you able to supercharge it with gamification; you can optimise the core loops, create the right tone and craft re-engagement. 

Above anything else, games are designed to be used to deliver that ‘win’ moment, emotional engagement and, ultimately, a change in behaviour. Amongst all the typical games features, such as creating characters and sometimes using guns or candy, there are engaging experiences that drive billions of people to dedicate their time to a game and, in turn, feel joy. 

Gamified since birth

In the last two decades games have expanded with great speed, mostly due to the growth of mobile platforms and devices. This year, the games market is estimated to be worth $100 billion, and growing by 9% every year – more than cinema and recorded music. The growth of the amount of users and players has also been exceptional; in 1995, there was an estimated 100 million gamers and now that figure has risen to 2.6 billion, and the average player’s age is now 35. 

Even more significantly than revenue and player base is the societal trend that games are causing, and Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report showed just this. Throughout the report, Meeker’s focus was on games and she drew on what is now the reality; Millennials and Generation X have been gamified since birth. So what does this mean? Well, it means the next wave of employees, customers, business leaders, regulators, partners and suppliers will all understand the games mindset. They’re wired to understand, respond to and thrive on games. 

The next generation embraces the games mindset - they’re wired to understand, respond to and thrive on games

Games are already being used for more than just, simply, a game. Take a look at some of the most successful products and you’ll see games approaches; Linkedin, Facebook, Trip Advisor, Tinder and Fitbit are all gamified and examples of how both customers, and often the leaders behind the products, have been gamified since birth. Games are now foundational to digital success. 

Looking forward

The games trend is accelerating. Games are the context in which new technologies – such as VR, AI and AR – can be introduced, optimised and reinforced. Here’s what we already know:

  • Billions of people have been hard-wired to understand, accept and respond to game approaches
  • A games mindset is core to many of the top performing digital products
  • We can only expect this trend to grow and see more and more new technology built on this mindset

The future is one where a games mindset will combine with personal data to allow us to self-optimise and win. The future will also hopefully be one where digital product innovators have a better term than gamification to describe their work but, until then, it can stay.


Private equity firms ramp up sustainability focus

19 April 2019

In line with business leaders across the industrial gamut, private equity firms are increasingly on board with sustainability projects. According to a new study, the investment arms for major funds are implementing a number of strategies aimed at supporting sustainable economic development in line with global goals.

While the business world has finally begun to acknowledge the danger of climate change, effective action plans remain difficult to achieve. The Paris Agreement has stipulated a clear target for the decades leading up to 2100, although massively reducing emissions while not crashing the economy could be a tall order.

Businesses that are able to acquire capital can use it to boost productivity and output, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of development. However, some businesses are better able to utilise resources than others, both in terms of their relative productivity, as well as the value of the respective outcomes relative to costs (including environmental harms). Financing can therefore provide an avenue to select businesses that are aligned with various global sustainability goals, while shunning those that drive little or unsustainable social value creation.

Top moves made by investment arms towards responsible investment

Profit has for the longest time been the central criterion for investment decisions. Yet profit at any cost is increasingly seen as creating considerable social harms, while often delivering only marginal value. As a result, the private equity sector, which was initially sluggish to change its ways with regards to sustainability, has started to see the topic as an opportunity as much as a challenge.

A new study from PwC has explored how far sustainability goals have become part of the wider investment strategy for private equity (PE) firms. The report is based on analysis of a survey of 162 firms and includes responses from 145 general partners and 38 limited partners.

Maturing sustainability

Top-line results show that responsible investment has become an issue for 91% of respondents. For 81% of respondents, ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) was a board matter at least once a year, while 60% said that they already have implemented measures to address human rights issues. Two-thirds have identified and prioritised Sustainable Development goals that are relevant to their investment segments.

Change in concern and action on climate-related topics over time

While there is increasing concern around key issues, from human rights protections to environmental and biodiversity protection, the study finds there are mismatches between concern and action. For instance, concern among investment vehicles around climate change has increased since 2016.

In terms of risks to the PE firm itself, concern has increased from 46% of respondents in 2016 to 58% in the latest survey. However, the number who have taken action remains far below those concerned, at 9% in 2016 and 20% in 2019. Given the relatively broader scope of investment opportunities, portfolio companies face higher risks – and more concern – from PE professionals, at 83% in the latest survey. However, action is less than half of those concerned, at 31%.

Changing climate

In terms of the climate footprint of the portfolio companies, 77% of respondents state concern in the latest survey. 28% of respondents are taking action through the implementation of measures to mitigate their concerns.

Concern and action taken on ESG issues

In terms of the more pressing issues for emerging responsible investment or ESG issues, governance concern of portfolio companies comes in at number one (92% of respondents), while 60% have taken action on it. Firms have focused on improving awareness – setting up policies and a range of training modules for their professionals around responsible investment decision making. Cybersecurity takes the number two spot, with 89% concerned and 41% implementing strategies to mitigate risks.

Climate risks take the number three spot in terms of concern for portfolio companies (83%), but falls behind in terms of action (31%). Health and safety track records are a key concern at 80% of businesses, with 49% implementing action. Gender imbalance within PE firms themselves ranks at 78%, which is being dealt with by 31%. A recent survey from Oliver Wyman showed that there is gender balance at 13% of GP teams in developed countries.

Biodiversity is also an increasingly pertinent topic, with risks from pollution and chemical use increasingly driving wider systematic risks around environmental outcomes. It featured at number eight on the ranking of most likely global risks for the coming decade, with its impact at number six. As it stands, biodiversity is noted as an issue at 57% of firms, with 15% implementing action.