The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Education and business gaming

business gaming.pngI was looking at the IEEE site TryEngineering.org. This site is focused on helping students select an engineering profession as well as help teachers to expand their curriculum. One of the pages on the site is dedicated to Playing Games, that demonstrate some of the concepts and issues that engineers encounter.

 

By performing tasks like designing a parachute for the Mars lander or engineering a Bionic Arm (among many others), students get a feel for the kind of issues engineers need to think about.

 

These are useful tools for an individual to make a decision about their lives, but games have moved on from the one person playing in isolation to much more of a social, fluid foundation for multiplayer interaction and development. It does make me wonder how more serious gaming in a multiplayer environment can influence the way businesses train and shift behavior. There are more conferences every year that try to expand educational gaming into the business world, but other than in the government space, I can’t think of any examples being used.

 

Yet as we move into this information explosion enabled world where we need to use simulation and modeling to generate an advantage, the use of gaming techniques will have to increase. Are there any good examples out there?

Unified Communications for the Living Room

I’ve been talking with people about Unified Communications for the Enterprise and how it can shift the focus to getting things done rather than the technology issues of communicating what’s being done. When I saw this article titled: Three Screens And  A Cloud: Xbox, Windows Phone, and the Future of the Personal Computer that described what Microsoft’s plans are to unify the mobile, gaming and computing world it resonated with me.

 

It also made me wonder who else could make a play like this?

Wargaming the Business, part 2

One of the key aspects to any simulation is the model and its requirements. The OODA Loop was developed by USAF Colonel John Boyd as a model for military decision making at multiple levels, which can be used in a business environment. With the Internet and currently available technologies, business leaders can create mash-ups of information to better understand the business terrain and competitive environment. Sensors and metrics, including feeds from public and private sources, improve the quantity and quality of the Observe component information. Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) with alerts provides New Information and supports Analyses and Synthesis in the Orient component. Business Intelligence, along with Data Mining, supports the Previous Experience, New Information and Analyses and Synthesis steps as well. All of these tools can then support the decision making through simulation of the complex business environment.

One of the common errors in business as well as warfare is assuming the competitor will "fight the battle" like we do. Former employees of competitors and your competitive analysts can provide the key inputs on cultural traditions and genetic heritage on how the competitors will behave and react to changes. Programs like Top Gun, Red Flag and the OPFOR at National Training Center are designed to provide simulations of how "the other guys fight" by using dissimilar doctrine, tactics and weapons.

The ability to quickly observe, orient, decide and act more quickly than your competition is "The Essence of Winning and Losing".

Labels: Gaming| Simulation

Wargaming, the business

Cheap computing power has created the hot market space of computer games as entertainment. Evolving from the abstracted strategy games like chess and checkers to sophisticated military grade full motion simulators to train warfighters, these are seen as cost effective tools to teach individual skills, team work, and decision making as well as proof of concept/research and development uses.

The military uses the mnemonic METT-TC to help commanders assess the situation, which can be aligned to business fairly readily:

Military

     Business

Mission

     Business goals and objectives (yours)

Enemy

     Competitors and their allies

Terrain and Weather

     Market forces

Troops and Support

     Your own finite resources plus your allies

Time

     Time

Civilian

     Public perception/corporate citizenship

There are several levels of simulation, ranging from individual skill sets to team/unit up through strategic. Most of the computer games are built around an "engine" to drive the game play and graphics, which could be adapted for business. New user interfaces like EMOTIV's Epoc neural headset open the gaming to people who may not normally see gaming as "real". The military uses simulations to teach key skills; why shouldn't business look to these same tools to evaluate investments and enhance decision making skills?

Let's also pause to remember one of the true legends in game design, Gary Gygax, who passed away on March 4th. Gary invented Dungeons and Dragons, the first widely marketed role playing game, the progenitor of the World of Warcraft MMORPG with millions of players world-wide.

Labels: Gaming
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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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