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IBM uses Innov8 serious games to help clients learn IT skills.

By Carolyn Allen, Editor

INNOV8 is an interactive, 3-D business simulator designed to teach the fundamentals of business process management and bridge the gap in understanding between business leaders and IT teams in an organization.

IBM uses Innov8 to help students and clients learn IT skills. The lack of skills is the number one reason clients do not adopt new IT solutions.

Gaming makes it 80% more likely that the student will RETAIN the information because they can immediately apply the knowledge in a simulation environment.

INNOV8 v.2 will be available at no cost to businesses and academic institutions for simulations and training.

The new version of Innov8 features puzzles and tasks that challenge players to tackle real-world challenges. INNOV8 v.2 delivers a complete redesign of the game, with a new global collaboration feature for players to work with virtual teammates to progress to the next level of the game.

Three new game scenarios reflect a new level of intelligence required for high-value job opportunities:

  • 'Green' Supply Chain: Players evaluate a traditional supply chain model and are tasked with reducing a fictional company's carbon footprint.
  • Efficient Traffic Flow: Players evaluate existing traffic patterns and re-route traffic based on sensors that alert the player to disruptions such as accidents and roadway congestion.
  • Call Center Customer Service: Using a call center environment, players develop more efficient ways to respond to customers.

"Business simulations allow companies to optimize costs, mitigate risks and remain agile in a rapidly changing environment," said Sandy Carter, IBM vice president of SOA, BPM and WebSphere. "The new features in INNOV8 v.2 provide a powerful tool for businesses to simulate challenges and explore the range of solutions offered by a Service Oriented Architecture approach before committing resources."

Learning Through Visualization

Most MBA programs are already heavily based on projects that reflect how individuals and teams need to interact in the real world. INNOV8 v.2 takes that a step further by actually allowing students to step into a dynamic business environment.

Based on advanced commercial gaming technologies, it allows players to visualize how technology and related business strategies affect an organization's performance. Players can map out business processes, identify bottlenecks and explore 'what if' scenarios.

According to a 2008 study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a great lecture can improve learning outcomes by 17 percent, while switching to a different delivery mechanism such as Serious Gaming can improve learning outcomes by 108 percent.

Through its Academic Initiative, IBM is partnering with thousands of universities worldwide to help re-tool course work so it energizes both students and up and coming executives.

INNOV8 v.2, available to Academic Initiative members, was designed to be delivered in a one-hour learning lab to supplement courses such as Business Process Management, Corporate Strategy and Operations and IT Management.

In one year, more than 100 universities -- from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and University of Southern California to Manchester Business School in the United Kingdom, have teamed with IBM to integrate INNOV8 into their curricula.

First introduced in November 2007, INNOV8 was designed to be delivered in a one-hour learning lab to supplement courses like Business Process Management, Corporate Strategy, and Operations and IT Management.

"Until now, some of the most important skills such as leadership, project management, innovation and entrepreneurship could only be taught using standard case studies and inspirational quotes," said Clark Aldrich, author of "The Complete Guide to Simulations and Serious Games: How the Most Valuable Content Will Be Created in the Age Beyond Guttenberg to Google."

The IBM Academic Initiative offers a wide range of technology education. Initiative, schools receive free access to IBM software, discounted hardware, course materials, training and curriculum development. More than 4,600 universities and 9,000 faculty members worldwide have joined IBM's Academic Initiative.

INNOV8 v.2 was released in May 2009.

For more information on INNOV8, IBM's Academic Initiative or to access the virtual press kit, please visit

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