As a supply chain trainer, we have learnt that sometimes, the best way to get the message across is through a simulated classroom exercise. Imagine trying to teach negotiation styles, skills and strategies with a hypothetical case whereby a high powered negotiation between a procurement manager with economies of scale leverage, is up against a supplier who enjoys a monopolistic advantage. For me, a well planned simulated game play gets the job done.
Simulated games have forever been part of supply chain learning in the classroom. One very popular simulated activity, the Beer distribution game, is capable of teaching learners a host of supply chain concepts, including the Bullwhip effect and the implications surrounding supply and demand . But games weren’t always done manually. Over the years, we have lived to see many games become digitized, even before the Artificial Intelligence phenomenon. In the past , Digital Game Based Learning (DGBL) had been viewed as a potential tool to develop supply chain skills, even though these early attempts were not the best in simulating a real world supply chain environment ( Corsi, Boyson, Verbraeck, Van Housten, Han and MacDonald, 2006). Attempts were also made by the Harvard Business School, where they developed an interactive Global Supply Chain Management Simulation to provide supply chain practitioners with a learning environment that could mimic the complexities of a supply chain (Harvard Business School, 2004). Since then, there has been considerable improvements in the supply chain gaming business , with new ones emerging every year.
The company Sterling Simulation, in collaboration with Supply Chain Insights have successfully developed a newly designed digitized version of the Beer Game that encompasses an entire supply chain network (Bowman, 2015) . Cranfield University Supply chain module in its Management MSc program has also been able to successfully apply a real world , 24/7 Supply Chain Simulation game, allowing students to make strategic decisions from the scenarios and outcomes generated through game play (Cranfield School of Management, 2019). Interestingly, real time simulated games with a continuous, 24/7 could not have been achieved ten years ago by the Harvard Business School simulated model . Now this technology is finally with us, bringing the student closer to a complex real world environment.
As digitized gaming continue to be an invaluable tool in supply chain education , its future remain uncertain. Artificial Intelligence applications are now set to be the strategic decision maker for the supply chain professional of the future, through its predictive analytics and machine learning abilities (Advance Business Media, 2018 ; Cassel, 2018). By this time, games might shift to emotional intelligence simulations, tailored towards the needs of the supply chain professional.
Mr. Paul Gulston, Westford University College
Advance Business Media (2018), ‘Artificial intelligence technology is redefining the manufacturing workforce’ (2018). Manufacturing Business Technology, Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/2086863407?accountid=173659
Bowman, (2015), ‘Game On: A New Tool for Supply-Chain Simulation’, SUPPLYCHAINBRAIN , Available at: : https://www.supplychainbrain.com/articles/22747-game-on-a-new-tool-for-supply-chain-simulation Accessed : June 9th 2019
Cassel (2018) AI Starts Taking White Collar Jobs, THENEWSTACK Available at : https://thenewstack.io/ai-starts-taking-white-collar-jobs/ Accessed : June 9th 2019
Corsi, Boyson, Verbraeck, Van Housten, Han and MacDonald, (2006) ‘The Real- Time Global Supply Chain Game: New Educational Tool for Developing Supply Chain Management Professionals’ Transportation Journal; Summer 2006; 45, 3; ABI/INFORM Global
Cranfield School of Management, (2019),Supply Chain Simulation game – Cranfield School of Management. Available at :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21UOOql0Ojg Accessed : June 9th 2019
Harvard Business School (2004),‘The Real- Time Global Supply Chain Game: New Educational Tool for Developing Supply Chain Management Professionals’ Transportation Journal; Summer 2006; 45, 3; ABI/INFORM Global