by Martin Klima
Making the business decision process more intuitive
In recent years, the emergence of new technologies and the increase in Internet bandwidth has allowed new opportunities for the use of rich visual environments in business simulations. Marketplace Live boasts an entirely new interface with visually rich decision screens and revised reports.
In critical decision areas, such as product design, students can now see a realistic visual representation of their products. The changes occur in real time as they go through the process of designing their brands.
Similar visual elements were added to many of the decision screens throughout the simulation. For instance, students can preview the advertisements they design before deciding on market placement.
Visualizing key business concepts
The benefits of a visually rich simulation go beyond just making the game more intuitive. The animated graphics and video content help students visualize the important business concepts. For example, complex ideas, such as expanding fixed plant capacity, are clarified when the game illustrates how an increase in fixed capacity translates into adding sections to the factory. Animations convey business principles simply, whereas text can be boring, convoluted, and time-consuming.
Assuring the learning points are retained
The addition of visual content further improves what we believe is the most important advantage of experiential learning – knowledge retention. We created a unique learning experience that allows the learning points to be easily understood and internalized. The engaging and interactive business story ties the entire simulation experience together. The game features realistic and interesting characters in common business situations. Managers, employees, potential consumers, and current customers make an appearance in the simulated business world.
The simulation results are still presented in a traditional format. However, students also experience their decisions through life-like animations. For example, if their firm struggles with poor customer satisfaction, they will view the reaction of an unhappy customer ’face to face.‘
If the students’ executive decisions cause havoc in their China factory, they will have an irritated plant manager on the phone to let them know. If they fail to react to a competitor’s pricing and it hurts their demand, a clever employee will be quick to point out the executives’ mistake.
Such realistic experiences resonate with students on a more personal and emotional level. This greatly increases knowledge retention.
Adding visual hints pointing to main problem areas
The videos are tailored to each company’s specific situation in a particular quarter. The video may catch workers asleep on the job; this may prompt the company to look at issues with employee productivity. It may feature a frustrated sales person unable to close a sale, pointing to a serious stock out problem. It may show a dismayed accountant who has just learned that way too much cash is tied up in inventory. This suggests to the team to pay more attention to inventory planning.
This audio-visual approach helps students to quickly pinpoint problem areas in their company’s performance. The queues and alerts are not dry program warnings. This is a realistic business situation.
The videos add another fun element to the simulation. As well, they increase the students’ involvement and engagement in the learning process.