IBM Upgrades Innov8 'Virtual Game' for SOA Training

IBM released an upgrade to its Innov8 'virtual game' for SOA training during its IMPACT OA conference in Las Vegas, Nev. Innov8 v2 aims to teach SOA skills to business and technology professionals with three new scenarios and business process expertise from ILOG.

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IBM released an upgrade to its Innov8 'virtual game' for SOA training during its IMPACT OA conference in Las Vegas, Nev.

Innov8 v2 aims to teach SOA skills to business and technology professionals with three new scenarios and business process expertise from ILOG.

Innov8: SOA Learning Through Visualization
Innov8 builds on traditional MBA teaching methods, using a 'virtual world' approach to let SOA students and professionals to teach key skills in problem-solving using SOA. These skills include how to map out business processes, identify bottlenecks and explore 'what if' scenarios.

"We're finding a lot of business value with using 'serious gaming' as a training tool," Sandy Carter, IBM vice president of SOA, told IDN. "Business simulations allow companies to optimize costs, mitigate risks and remain agile in a rapidly changing environment."

Research also finds gaming can be a powerful teaching tool. "If somebody just hears about something, they retain only about 25%. If they write down information, they can retain up to 50% percent. But, those students doing an activity, like with a flight simulator, will retain up to 75-80 percent of what they've learned. This same sample that's done some hands-on activity will exhibit an 80% higher recall than traditional classroom education," Carter said. "Those are pretty dramatic increases."

Innov8's New SOA Scenarios, Teachable Moments
Innov8 v2 comes with course curriculum, a book, and three new 'real-workplace' scenarios, based on real case studies and driven by the needs of customers to find ways for IT and business to work better together for the overall benefit of the company. To further drive home these skills, Innov8 v2 incorporates business rules expertise from ILOG, the business rules management systems firm IBM purchased last year.

"In this economy, many companies may feel they need to update or fix business a process. So, the game looks to teach players how business processes are derived, designed and how they work and get updated in real-life," Carter said. Innov8 takes the 'real-life' part pretty literally.

"In the game, players run around in the avatar, talking to different people to gather up the [business] process," Carter said, "and just like in real-life what they've written down from each person, often may not really match." To help players gather their information, they are given multiple choice questions as a guide. Scoring is based on the player's ability to get the right information from the right stakeholders, and then sorting it all out to derive a correct business process.

All Innov8 scenarios present what Carter called "teachable moments," which put the player into position to further improve collaboration between IT and business. These new skill sets, especially regarding collaboration, are deeply integrated into the nerve center of the game," Carter told IDN. To further challenge the player, Innov8 presents some workmates as 'devils' who simply may not want to change the process, or don't want the process to change, Carter added.

Innov8's 3 new scenarios are:

  • Smart Supply Chain. Teaches how to optimize for cost and for 'green' opportunities using many supply chain tasks (forecasting supply, forecasting demand, quick execution and adjustment, etc.) This gaming model is actually based on experiences and best practices for SCM at IBM, Carter told IDN.

  • Smart Traffic. Helps governments learn new ways to address traffic congestion in the cities, without the need for expensive or impractical road construction. This scenarios based on city of Stockholm, which undertook a project to develop a more agile traffic congestion system - which would provide a dynamic transportation process to divert traffic, (for traffic jams caused by accidents or rush hours). The game also looks at how governments can leverage new technologies, such as RFID, triggers and business rules.

  • Smart Customer Service. Teach retailers, commercial firms and even government agencies how to improve citizen satisfaction or customer satisfaction. "Everybody is focused on customer service and gets better when there is a down economy," Carter said. While this game centers on a call center example to show what smart customer service looks like, this one is customizable to the players' business sector and role, Carter said. "There will be places you can insert rules, and allow customers to write their own modules."


  • For more on Innnov8, visit www.ibm.com/innov8.



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