Back in my distant past (1991 I think it was) at WBS , as part of the the strategy course, we played a business simulation game.  (one of those 12 hour games where each hour is a year, and you have 5-6 variables to play with) We played against the MBA types, who arrogantly expected to beat the post graduate diploma  management  HR and Bus Admin teams.  Every year since 1968  or whenever the MBAs had won.

The combined HR and Bus Admin PDM team brought a PC computer along. We quickly built a spreadsheet and simulated the balance sheets, cash flows etc of all the competitors.  In each round we figured out where to invest, and were able to what-if some really weird scenarios. This enabled us to figure out the core algorithm of the microworld.  The credit goes to Rob and Patrick.  Well, to cut a long story short, within half  scheduled rounds we had put everyone else into bankruptcy.  The MBA’s cried foul,  and protested to the Dean.  He was impressed with our strategy, so the victory was upheld  but next year he banned computers from the game. 

Business simulation and scenario planning has interested me ever since, and I wish I’d spent more time on simulation and scenario planning theory. It is fascinating stuff.

It is goodness to see IBM moving this to the next level. James Governor twittered about it, and later then I saw this on news.com

IBM on Monday introduced a three-dimensional video game that puts a businessperson in a virtual office with the task of constructing a more efficient company.

The game, called Innov8, is meant to address a lack of skills in understanding and improving a company’s internal business processes.

Process improvement is a critical component to service-oriented architectures (SOA), a way of designing software as a series of interlinked, modular business services. The software for modeling and running this modular software is called business process management, or BPM.

To get business and IT people (to understand BPM), you need to look at a simulator or game. It’s the way people learn today–it has to be visual and they want to have fun. And the businesspeople said they like to compete,” Carter said.

This idea came up briefly in at Sapphire, so it is interesting to see that IBM are already some way down the road to achieving this. 

Games have become so intricate and immersing that it is only a matter of time until they become part of the software evaluation process.  Simulate closing down a plant, or adding 3 new countries to a product rollout, an SEC audit, a takeover.

I also saw that IBM are putting full time sales people into Second Life.

(or click here if it doesn’t display http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJPwoGQAMAM)

This is not your father’s IBM.

There has to be a better way to sell software than death by powerpoint. Who said that buying enterprise software can’t be fun.

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