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Innov8: Interactive web-based learning on BPM, SOA, Business Rules and more
Daryl Pereira 270002AW8D firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  supplychain impact09
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Earlier this week at IBM Impact, I had a chance to catch up with Phaedra Boinodiris, SOA & Web 2.0 product marketing manager for the Innov8 virtual learning platform. She was here to demontrate the just-launched Innov8 2.0 platform that is now Web based--but more of that later.
What is Innov8?
Innov8 is a business process management (BPM) simulator which allows you to run through scenarios. You amass points based on the quality of the business decisions you make. The IBM SOA team originally created the game to help educate potential SOA clients. The initial version was only open to the academic community and has been in use at over a 1,000 universities and colleges (as far and wide as Beijing and Manchester) since its launch in 2007. The latest version (Innov8 2.0) is now a Web-based platform open to all.
Development of Innov8
Phaedra joined IBM after proposing her idea for Innov8 to IBM during a college case competition. She was given three months to create a demo for Sandy Carter (vice president, SOA & WebSphere Marketing, Strategy, and Channels) for the 2007 Impact conference. There was such strong customer interest that Phaedra was immediately pulled in and later that year Innov8 appeared. Pheadra points out that this really was lightening fast in terms of the time normally taken to develop games (usually years, rather than months). This first version of the game was so successful that many professors worked it into their curricula.
The latest verion has two extra scenarios--smarter supply chain and smarter traffic--in addition to the original customer service track. The new scenarios were tested throughout their development on MBA candidates and students at computer science schools and in game design departments. Each group interacted with the game in a different way: the computer scientists jmped in and started clickin, whereas the MBA students tended to read all the documentation before getting near the game. This has been taken into account within the simulation so there are parts of the screen dedicated to providing textual information; but if you like, you can ignore these and just dive right in.
Most of the development time was spent on content and developing the math that underpins the game. Working out an effective scoring system also proved a major challenge. This is of particular importance in the latest version, given there are now leaderboards published across the web.
Pheadra talked me through the traffic scenario, where on has to make decisions around easing congestion flow through a fictitious city. We have to work out when best to implement smart tolling systems based on traffic at different times of the day, and deal with filtering traffic around accident hotspots. To keep these as close as possible to the real world, there are obvious budget decisions that have to be made at each point.
The supply chain scenario is of particular interest, given that it was developed in conjunction with experts from ILOG, an IBM Company's supply chain applications product line. This scenario involves having to make decisions around how to onboard vendors: determining vendor order, updating fulfillment data and managing the distribution center.
Jump in now
You can play the game right now. Note there is a leaderboard on the page. Do you think you can do better? Remember, you can only commit three times each time you play the game, so make sure you think through your choices! ;)
For more information, check out the DeveloperWorks page.
To see some of Pheadra's previous work (she has 10 years experience in gaming), check out Women Gamers, a site she helped create.