Sunday, December 6, 2009

Is Speed a Good Thing?

For those of you who have a Facebook account, you would probably have joined some Facebook games application.

I played the wildlife zoo game because it was entertaining seeing things grow (in this case, the zoo and it's population) and also challenging (how to manage funds to expand your zoo). This kind of game (strategic life simulations) have been around for a long time and most people would be familiar with SimCity developed by Maxis and published by Electronic Arts (EA) back in 2000. After over 16million copies sold worldwide, and numerous awards, this game has evolved with all sorts of simulation expansion packs today. Other equally successful games include Civilization, WarCraft, and many more. Simulation games allow you to flex your creative and strategic muscles in truly amazing ways. Whether you're planning cities, building societies, or controlling lives, the power is in your hand to express yourself while shaping entire worlds and destinies. (EA)

The most critical adversary in simulation games (or any other games as a matter of fact) is time. In all cases, the players have to abide by the time principles and resource issues. Time will decide if your army is capable to withstand the invading forces when they arrive. So the faster you train your army, or the faster you build your walls or weaponry, the better your chances for victory.

This is not so much different from real life scenario. In reality, we also need to abide by time principles and resource issues. But, society today wants things super fast, faster! And the expectations of this "super fast" is evolving to that of a simulation game timeframe which could be about 1:100,000 - for example, constructing something in 1 minute (game time) when it normally takes over 70 days in real life. I am not suggesting the time frame game developers use are innacurate, but rather, the mentality and confusion that it has shaped in society's expectations today; "If in the game I could do it, why not in real life?", "I just want it faster".

In supply chain and dealing with customers; customers want products and materials faster. And so often we encounter our customers will face "lines down" situation, and expect suppliers to switch assembly to accomodate their "more urgent" orders. But with all the switching and expediting, streamlining, lean, Kaizen, 6-Sigma, most of the time you probably won't be able to do much (with the exception of keeping inventory/WIP, cutting corners/materials, introducing additives, hormone growth and other unethical and unsafe ways, and perhaps planning in SIM world). In the example of Wildlife zoo, you can actually buy more wildlife dollars and points to speed up your zoo population - and this "business" is rather common with a lot of other games nowadays, where you can buy character points instead of earning them.

When there's no opportunity for virtual bailouts, marketers need to engage with better communication and product diffussion/lifecycle planning. The market will continue to expect things faster and faster, and narrowing the gap between reality and SIM time frames. Marketers, likewise are expected to be able to react swiftly in this new and challenging environment. In order to succeed, go play more SIM games - not really, but that would be a more fun and exciting choice. In reality, marketers need to equip themselves with the marketing fundamentals and knowledge on the latest trends and tools development so that when the situation arises, they can make strategic marketing decisions instantly - and this is a competitive advantage!

Speed of execution is a good thing, but there are somethings that you cannot cut corners or get someone else to do for you - learning, exercising and nurturing relationships. Invest some time today to identify the larger rocks, build solid foundations and overcome the quadrant 2 (important issues) first. In the meantime if you need to release some stress, enjoy a game or two.

Click here for more info on Facebook Wildlife Zoo

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