The Following is an Op-Ed by Michael Hugos, CIO and Mentor at the Center for Systems Innovation [c4si]
We know game mechanics are going to merge with business operations. It’s a great idea. And the introduction of points, badges, levels and leaderboards on company websites is the first step. But now a lot of business folks are saying, “OK that’s cool; but is that all there is? What else do you have to show me?”
When you hear this, smile and nod your head because this means they are ready to take the next step into the fusion of games and business. Look them in the eye, and smile, and tell them, “I have two things; just two things. Are you listening?” Pause a moment for dramatic effect. Then say, “HUDs and 3D worlds.”
MMO Games Define State of the Art in Real-Time Collaboration
Over the last 10 years massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMOs) have advanced the art and practice of displaying huge amounts of streaming real-time data in such a way that thousands of people can work together moment to moment on complex tasks. HUDs (heads-up-displays) enable people to collaborate and compete in real-time, high change and unpredictable environments where players have to think, move and communicate if they are going to survive. Now this is what companies need to do in the real-time economy. Business is starting to get as fast paced as MMOs.
At present, most business collaboration systems are hardly more than document sharing, project planning and video conferencing packaged together under a clumsy UI (user interface). MMOs are an example of what business intelligence and collaboration systems could be if they used HUDs and 3D worlds. The examples below are from EVE Online because what happens in EVE is already close to real-world business operations.
HUDs combine both sight and sound; players use headsets, microphones and video cameras to communicate with individuals or whole groups using text, voice and video. Use this same approach for business collaboration. By incorporating HUDs, 3D worlds and Internet-based real-time communication technology, business collaboration software move to a new level.
Business Application of MMO Game Collaboration Techniques
Supply chains are an area where real-time collaboration is much in demand. Supply chains are by definition not just one company; they are combinations of many companies doing tasks ranging from mining to manufacturing, transportation, warehousing and retailing. Supply chains literally are massively multiplayer online games.
I’m working with a company called SCM Globe to apply lessons learned from MMO games to create a business collaboration system for supply chains. Shown below are screen shots from SCM Globe. We are using Google Earth and Google Maps as our game engine – they provide the moving 3D displays. Then we created software to collect and display data and add other elements of a HUD on top of those moving displays.
People and companies within supply chains can see and design supply chains on a map of the world. And they can get real-time read outs of performance data for these supply chains and see where problems arise. They can set alerts to notify them when certain operating variables such as inventory, cost or product demand move outside of predefined parameters. Then people can convene online and collaborate to resolve problems and achieve objectives – just as players do in an MMO game.
Now combine these HUD screens with a web conference service such as WebEx or GoToMeeting and add an Internet voice and video service such as Skype, and what results is the start of a massively multiplayer online business collaboration system. The system can continue to grow from there and evolve as needs arise.
This is an example of what is just the beginning of an inevitable process of merging video games and business operations to meet the demanding collaboration requirements of the real-time global economy we live in.
Learn more in Michael Hugos’ newest book – Enterprise Games: Using Game Mechanics to Build a Better Business