Top Online Strategy Games for Business Students

Strategy can be best understood through simulation games. What better training for a manager than to understand business strategy than to react to simulated market responses as provided by these games? Simulation games ensure that the attempted knowledge imparted in classrooms are driven to the core of the students to a stage where it is assimilated and can be implemented by the student, rather than staying at a superficial text-book knowledge level.

If you as an instructor or a student are still not sure how these strategy simulation games will help you, this article may interest you “From e-learning to games-based e-learning: using interactive technologies in teaching an IS course”, by Thomas M. Connolly, Mark Stansfield, published in journal, International Journal of Information Technology and Management, Volume 6 Issue 2-4, June 2007

  • Mike Bikes advanced strategic simulation game ensures learning whereby students form the management team of a Bicycle Manufacturing company making all the key functional decisions involving Price, Marketing, Distribution, Finance, Operations, HR, and R&D
  • In Industry Player (.) comby Tycoon Systems, students create and manage their own company. In real-time, they experience a multiplayer competition for market leadership and shareholder value within a simulation of real world economy.
  • Marketplace-live is an advanced simulation game students start a firm in the microcomputer industry. Students experience real time challenges in Marketing, Product Development, Accounting, Finance and Manufacturing Fundamentals, Financial Analysis, Business Partner Negotiations, Human Resource Management and e-Commerce.
  • The Price Strategy Simulator by Michael Bean ensures students get a feel of pricing strategies at war through a simulation of Price Wars amongst Hewlett-Packard / Compaq and Dell. IBM enters the competition and an excellent pricing strategy simulation learning is ensured.

Faculties and students who would be interested for more details on the use of Simulation games would be encourage to buy this book from Amazon “The Global Business Game: A Simulation in Strategic Management and International Business” by Joseph Wolfe. Now, using the Amazon banner in this website, Business-Fundas readers can avail of a special discount.

While most of the previously mentioned games were for Business School students, there are quite a few games which will develop the intellect of younger students. A few descriptions of the same are provided below.

  • In a world of online simulation games, where dexterity of the thumb and index finger is infinitely more important than the flexing of the cerebrum, there is a deep need to interact and actually learn something from that overpriced multimedia computer/gaming system. One such game is the ROMper Room, where focus is more on intellectual stimulation.
  • Some basic Strategy and Time Management online games are also available at freeworldgroup website. These games are meant for those who are attempting to enhance their personal development skills and time management skills although they may seem redundant to graduate management students.

Generic Strategies for the Ultimate Competitive Advantage

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage” ~ Jack Welch

Today, the firms operate in an even more competitive industry dictated by an ever unparalleled dynamism. Jack Welch never said anything more meaningful. In current times, when change is the only thing that is constant, a firm’s ability to learn, and more importantly “unlearn and then relearn” creates the most important distinguishing factor for sustainable competitive advantage.

Michael Porter’s framework for competitive advantage probably explains few of the focus issues firms may keep in mind while formulating strategies at the top level.

However, this is the way to achieve sustainable competitive advantage and a firm’s top executive needs to understand the core to his firm, based on which he can take this call. However, due to the dynamism of the industry structure, he needs to continually analyze and re-evaluate his strategies, based on the core.

A firm probably has multiple dimensions of personality traits, talents, resources and skills, and hundreds of other characteristics, but what is it that when all the others are surgically removed distinguishes the character of the firm at the very core? This is essentially the key which needs to be leveraged successfully and innovated upon continually to attain that otherwise illusive competitive advantage.

So how does one recognize one’s core?

One may argue that achieving “customer loyalty” may be a step towards achieving a sustainable competitive advantage. It’s not a secret that loyal customers are good for an organization or brand. You don’t see too many executives saying they don’t want more of them. But in spite of that what intrigues me is how few companies truly acknowledge, take care of and leverage those loyal customers in a way that measurably accelerates market share and recurring revenue while mitigating competitive risk and reducing sales & marketing costs. But in spite of  “customers” being a crucial focal point for business, it is required to recognize that in current times, the very nature of business is evolving. With the very definition of a firm’s role in an industry or even the definition of the industry under such a strict evolution, it is crucial to note that the very target customers are deemed to change in this dynamic market structure. So identifying and acquiring new customers, in spite of the spiraling costs of new customer acquisitions, may play a key role for sustenance.

Thus a firm’s source of resources for the “Ultimate Competitive Advantage” is much more than the sources of revenue. Smaller firms whose ability to learn and “unlearn and then relearn”have reaped the benefits in the past. The problem started after they grew to a certain size where they couldn’t stay so nimble on their feet, and faced competition from other firms, who were more adaptive to the dynamic industry structure.

Sometimes, one tends to think that probably a firm’s organization structure and the culture is the inherent and most important source of competitive advantage. But how can a firm leverage that to quantifiable profits since at the end of the day, business decisions are based on ROI figures and financial achievements. This is probably where a firm needs to rediscover itself.

How to build a Successful Business Model or a Business Plan?

Business Models are crucial for the success of an enterprise or even a startup. So what do you need to focus on while building up your business from scratch? A Business model or a Business Plan (B-Plan) helps you to plan this properly.

  • What are the firm’s core capabilities?
  • How does the firm deliver value to its clients? How does the network with its partners/collaborators (value chain) add to its core competencies. How does the value chain model collaborate with the firms current strategies?
  • What is the cost structure in the business vis-a-vis that of the firm?
  • How is the value proposition unique and sustainable in the long run?
  • How does the firm manage its distribution channels and relationships / liasons with the customers?
  • How is the targeted customer contacted, acquired and retained?
  • What are the sources of revenue and the structure of the same?
  • How does the vision/mission statement adhere with what the firm is doing now and what it is planning to do in the future.

100 Fastest Growing Careers

All of us want a great career. For someone who is about to take the big leap into the unknown, an intriguing question that torments his mind is what prospects does the future hold for him in the particular career track? What are his growth prospects and is it just a job for him or will it provide truly a career worth pursuing?

A recent research by Michael Farr has attempted to find out the top 100 fastest growing career paths. The figure below lists them out.

Maybe this should help before you think about a career choice, or decide to run the rat race. Do let me know what you feel about this.

Why should you have a Corporate Social Network

Often, there is very little to differentiate between the winners and the “not-winners” in the race for corporate seniority in the industry. What creates that illusive competitive advantage for those who actually succeed. In most cases, it is not capabilities to deliver the goods that count but the winner’s socializing capability. So what benefits does a Corporate Social Network brings to a professional?

  1. Personal Branding: did you know that each member of a social network adds about U$ 80-U $ 100 to the brand value? Your depth of “intimacy” with your contacts in your corporate social network will determine this added value to your personal brand. In short, if Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are on your contact list in Linked-In, it helps to increase your personal branding.
  2. Relationships Based Organization: Today, when in a big firm, everything is standardized, we are moving into a relationship based management to deliver that inch extra. Generally, contacts with different types of stakeholders are kept in databases but, they are not organized in groups and segmented in order to build long term relationships. The same is true to all contacts of all employees that there are spread among various social networks.
  3. Knowledge sharing: Corporate social networking is one of the most popular and easiest ways of facilitating knowledge sharing, either by posting articles, wikis or by acting as a simple repository of several files as text editors, spreadsheets, presentations, etc..
  4. New leadership identification: It helps to strengthen group activity, and thus it is paramount to nominate a team of group leaders. This leadership must be naturally stimulated. The company will be able to observe styles and attitudes of each professional and reward them fairly whenever they create real value.
  5. Transparent relationship: By the time the company organizes all its stakeholders, starting by its internal collaborators, clients, suppliers in several specific groups, it opens a very strong and positive relationship channel with all of them creating the possibility that each stakeholder bring their respective relationships to the same business environment.
  6. Active & identified communication: the company starts offering to everyone an environment, in which, the communication can flow both ways actively in an identified and transparent manner. Company will know with whom it is talking to, what is being discussed and what the concrete results are because the platform itself documents all exchanged ideas.
  7. Market test: instead of spending a fortune in market research, how about having your own and qualified sample, make an in-house test and have a more reliable and real time result?
  8. Stakeholders loyalty: It is to be recognizes that there is a challenge to overcome by the time the company is exposing more. However, by facing and solving problems directly and by finding intelligent and creative solutions involving each stakeholder specifically, the company will consolidate its brand before the market and will attract the best opportunities besides making all stakeholders loyal and having them bringing new businesses to the organization. This is only possible if managers have a corporate social network which is not only wide but also deep across organizational hierarchies.
  9. Central, global & local management: Corporate social networking is all set to evolve to a central relationship point among all with several modules like payment gateway, web-conferences, mobile solutions,  CRM, reducing tremendously the operational costs of new business search and allowing the global  reach by having strong presence on the Internet while reinforcing its local presence.
  10. Lock-in effect: Considering that in general, people are fairly resistant to changes and that everyone competes for time and attention of the superiors in an organizational hierarchy, the one, who is better poised to affect their decisions will have conditions to create a a lock-in effect hence nullifying competition from co-workers.

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business

Henry Ford never said something more meaningful. A business has more implications on the society and environment in which it functions. Its not only the philanthropic activities which matter but activities like “Go Green” paves the way for a sustainable development and a better future for generations to come.

Understanding what an organizations Corporate Social Responsibility may be, may turn out not just an attempt for brand building in the long run, but a survival strategy, in the changing era of government intervention and policing.

CSR policies today, more than ever function as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby organizations would monitor and ensure its support to law, ethical standards and even international norms or expectations. Consequently, today organizations are embracing responsibility for the impact of its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere, just to ensure a humanitarian face towards the ecology within which they thrive. Furthermore, CSR-focused businesses would proactively promote the public interest  by encouraging community growth and development, and voluntarily eliminating practices that harm the public sphere, regardless of legality. Essentially, CSR is the deliberate inclusion of public interest into corporate decision-making, and the honoring of a triple bottom line: people, planet, profit.

Today, CSR is not just a thing that companies may choose to do, but it is gradually turning out to be strategic inclination of major MNCs getting positioned for a better future. Today it has become a key component while evaluating a brand value and its recall value. Considering this take by the MNCs, can even the smaller and medium sized enterprises neglect whatever CSR is possible, in their disposition?

E-Governance Failures – Can it be averted?

E-government, in short, allows the private sector to operate in areas that used to fall strictly within the public domain. The challenge for policy makers is to recognize that what is good for business is consistent with good government. Planners start with grand visions of on-line services but then flounder amid cross-agency squabbling. Or they fail to attract enough users or get sidetracked by expensive high-tech bells and whistles. Research on e-government efforts around the world has helped to identify three critical lessons for their proponents.

First, don’t underestimate the resistance of government employees to change. Washington State overcame this barrier by creating the Digital Information Academy. Mandated by the state’s governor, the academy helps departments map their existing services, encourages them to rethink the design of their services, and tries out new processes on focus groups. By involving government employees, the academy makes them less fearful and gives them a stake in e-government’s success. To ensure cooperation among departments, the governor required all of his chiefs to sign contracts stipulating the services they would put on-line within a specified time frame. When friction arises, the academy mediates.

Second, e-government services don’t justify the investment if citizens and businesses don’t use them. The majority of the people of almost every country don’t have Internet access (Exhibit 3), so e-government initiatives must include efforts to increase Internet penetration and usage. Most countries will have to develop channels other than personal computers in homes. In Dubai, for instance, where PC-based Internet penetration is under 15 percent but mobile-telephone penetration is over 50 percent, e-government will eventually adopt wireless applications. In Hong Kong, where Internet penetration is more than 40 percent, the government is nonetheless building e-government kiosks in shopping malls, supermarkets, and railway stations.

But access isn’t enough: e-government must also give the public financial or other incentives to use the Internet for transactions. In the United States, for example, people who file their tax returns on-line get their refunds deposited into their bank accounts within three weeks—half as long as it takes those who file paper returns to get a check in the mail. More than 30 percent of US tax returns are currently filed on-line.

Finally, e-government can be either a profit engine or a financial black hole, depending on the strategy and mind-set chosen. Its cost ranges from $30 million for department-specific efforts to over $100 million for fully integrated service portals. Unless vendors too invest at the outset, governments must justify these commitments by identifying, up front, the specific ways in which costs will be cut and users will be served more cheaply and conveniently. The National Information Consortium, for example, agreed to provide e-services to the citizens and businesses of the US state of Virginia in return for a cut of every transaction.

The Role of Karma in Organizations

“Karmanye vadhika raste ma phaleshu kadachana, Ma karma phala hetu bhurba te sangostav karmani” — (Chapter 2:47) Bhagwat Gita.

[You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to doing your duty.] Continue reading “The Role of Karma in Organizations”

Growth Strategies of Web Based New Generation Firms

The cyber world has really come alive with the onslaught of WEB 2.0 technologies. Today, many start ups are being formed by students and entrepreneurs across the world. The web based firms with often no brick and mortar presence have been generating enviable returns, considering the low investments made on them. No wonder, students and young entrepreneurs have started viewing these businesses as endless oceans of opportunities. Continue reading “Growth Strategies of Web Based New Generation Firms”

What motivates better performances in organizations

What makes some employees tick?

Employees need various kinds of motivational incentives in organizations. Not always the best paying organization has the highest employee satisfaction score, and thus a higher performance. So what makes employees deliver their best. Check out this wonderful video. Continue reading “What motivates better performances in organizations”

The GE-McKinsey matrix and its Limitations for Business Portfolio analysis

A business portfolio is defined as a collection of Strategic Business Units, commonly called SBUs, that make up a firm or a corporation. The optimal business portfolio (a dream for all organizations) is the combination of multiple SBUs such that it helps to exploit the most attractive industries or markets, keeping in mind the competitive strength and weaknesses of the parent corporation or the firm. A SBU can either be an entire company or a division of a large firm, that formulates its own strategy and has separate objectives from the parent organization. Continue reading “The GE-McKinsey matrix and its Limitations for Business Portfolio analysis”

Top B-Schools of India in 2010

As per a study done by PagalGuy, the following is the ranking of B-Schools in India in 2010. Overall a sample size of 9576 respondents were used to evaluate the rank perception of 184 B-Schools in India. The study chooses factors such as brand of the school, faculty reputation, placements, industry recognition, student extra-curricular activities, infrastructure, locational advantage and student quality. Continue reading “Top B-Schools of India in 2010”