Monthly Archives: May 2016

Smartsims' New Logo (portrait)

Smartsims Unveils New Company Logo

We are delighted to announce the launch of our new company logo as part of the ongoing evolution of the Smartsims brand. This is the first step of many planned for 2016 and 2017 to take user experience and student engagement to the next level.

The new logo stems from the ambition to modernize the existing logo, whilst retaining a link to the 20 year history of the Smartsims brand. As such, the new logo retains a globe which is of significance to our history. Using the previous logo as inspiration, the globe has been simplified to a 3D icon with an adaptation of an “S”, featuring interesting layers and lines to bring this icon into the present day. Our font choice is simple yet refined and represents our team’s friendly approach.

We believe the new logo is innovative, strong and communicates a message of trustworthiness and reliability which is inherent in the Smartsims brand.


The new Smartsims logo is now live on our website and all business simulation applications. In the upcoming months we will be updating all marketing collaterals and product materials with the new logo.

If you are using the Smartsims logo in any of your marketing or course materials, please assist us in updating them. You can download the new logos by right clicking on the images above and selecting “Save As”. If you require any assistance please contact us.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates.

May 3rd MikesBikes-Intro Q&A Session

Research has found that inquisitive people are generally judged to be more intelligent and engaged. What does this mean? Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take every opportunity to do so. This is certainly one of the best methods to gain knowledge and develop your understanding. Here are some questions from a previous Q&A session that we held recently. For those who have missed this, here’s your chance to see if any of the questions you wished to ask have been answered and this could also be the perfect opportunity to give you a better understanding of the concepts raised in the Q&A session and in MikesBikes-Intro as a whole.If there’s a Q&A session coming up for your course, we would strongly suggest that you participate and grab the chance to learn more!

Question #1:



There aren’t just one or two qualities that will make you the most successful in MikesBikes-Intro. It is your ability to evaluate, plan and implement your strategy, based from all the information available to you. This will mean you need to consider the market as a whole; the decisions of your competitors and the sensitivities of your target market segments.

You cannot run a business half-heartedly. Good decisions cannot be made at the last minute. You have to invest time and think about every decision that you put into your firm in order to succeed.

Developing and implementing effective business decisions are built through many models but this is the one we find is the easiest to understand and most effective with Smartsims’ simulations:


 1. Evaluate the Economic Conditions and your Competitor’s Action

Read the Key Reports availble in the simulation. This will provide you with useful information about the current market, your firm’s results and your competitor’s actions.Read the Key Reports availble in the simulation. This will provide you with useful information about the current market, your firm’s results and your competitor’s actions.

  • Key Reports:
    • Industry Benchmark
    • Market Information
    • Income Statement
    • Cashflow Statement
    • Market Summary (All Product Details)
    • Products – Sales, Margin, Production
    • Factory Report
    • Multifirm Retailer Margin and Extra Support
  • Conduct Market Research. Valuable research has been conducted to investigate what your customers are looking for in the products they buy.
    • You can also consider conducting a PESTEL (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal) analysis to give you a further overview of the different factors that your firm needs to take into consideration.
    • Read the player’s manual and watch the tutorial videos. These resources explain the simulation in greater detail and display how to read the information provided to you.

2. Plan based on your evaluation

  • Develop a business strategy utilizing marketing, operations, finance and product development. Ask yourself if this is the best strategy that you can come up with in regards to the current situation. What are the consequences of these decisions? What are the pros and cos of these plans? Conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis and see what would work best based on what you would want to achieve.
  • Always think ahead. Your plans would not always work the way you want them to, so it’s important to have an alternative idea just in case things don’t go your way.

3. Implement based on your plan

  • Look at the Player’s Manual and Videos to learn how to best implement your strategy.
  • Enter your decisions.
  • Check the current decisions report to ensure everything is entered correctly.
  • Once implemented and the rollover has occurred, you can begin the process again at the evaluation of your results and the current market.

Things to avoid 

We wouldn’t say there are specific things that you need to avoid because it’s all a learning process for everyone and every market is unique. Just ensure that you have a clear strategy from the very beginning, you have conducted research and that you learn from your mistakes.

In the end, your success will be determined by how well you promote your company as an established, competent, and enterprising bicycle manufacturer. You can achieve this by evaluating the market (i.e. considering the sensitivities of the market segments), planning and implementing your strategy. Lastly, learning from your mistakes and working hard to achieve your goals would help you succeed in the simulation.

Question #2: 



Two words: Very important. Katharine Paine once said, “The moment you make a mistake in pricing, you’re eating into your reputation or profit.

Firstly, let’s talk about what the retail price is. This is the price that you recommend to your retailers sell your product for. Your pricing changes should be aligned to your current strategy and coordinated with other decisions such as advertising, PR, production, capacity, and quality (e.g. high cost/low volume, low cost/high volume, medium cost/medium volume).

Once you understand what retail price is, you need to evaluate whether you have correctly priced your products. If you price your products poorly, then you could be missing out on profits in every bike you sell, not to mention the amount of customers that you are not able to reach.

To evaluate your Pricing Strategy, you will need to take into account the price sensitivity of consumers in your target segments and the price of competing products.  View the “Market Summary Report” and ask yourself does your product, in comparison to your competitors, does your product have low awareness, low quality, low distribution or low delivery (or all of the above)? If your answer is “yes”, then you should price your product at the lower end of the market, if not and demand for your product is still average to high, then you can price your products at the higher end of the market. Keep in mind that extreme prices, high or low, will have a negative effect on Gross Margins.

In summary, pricing plays a huge part on how customers perceive your products. It is one of the more influential decisions on sales and profit; changes to price should align with your overall strategy and the sensitivities of your consumers.

Question #3:



It is not difficult at all. As Arianna Huffington once said, “we need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understand that failure is not the opposite of success, it is a part of success.”

Use a poor start to the simulation as the chance to learn. Often, those who fail, learn more than those who don’t.

What do we suggest?

Begin by remembering that the success of a company depends heavily on the dynamics of the market and your response. Therefore, you need to adapt to the market as it shifts in order to lead a successful business.

Next, learn to recognize all the components of a company and the effects of every individual decision. Whether the decision concerns Distribution or which market segments you choose to enter, every component is critical and should not be left unexplored.

Here are some common factors that might affect your business in various ways:

  • Strategic Risks – These affect your firm’s capability to achieve the goals in the business plan. This could be due to the impact of changes in consumer demand. These factors could pose as threats as they can alter how customers perceive your product(s). Based on these, customers might think that the product is overpriced, outdated (for example, you have not conducted product development in years, which resulted to a very low product specification index in comparison to your competitors) and/or your product does not meet the sensitivities of your consumers.
  • Innovation – Your business needs innovation in order to keep up with your competitors. It is essential to be one step ahead. Innovation stems from every area of business. For example (within the simulation), you could consider launching into new market segments from Year 4 onwards or modify your existing bikes every couple of years to improve the specifications or reduce unit prime cost.
  • Financial Risks – The financial risks are contingent on the financial structure of your business. It is important to ensure that you have sufficient cash, equity and resources to implement your decisions and strategies. For example, you can consider long-term debt (say in the third decision round) if you require more cash to execute your decisions, but be careful not to send your firm into insolvency with too much debt you cannot service.
  • Operations – This refers to your firm’s ability to produce the desired amount of bikes at the desired quality in the most efficient manner. It is important to calculate the right amount of factory capacity for your firm as under producing has the potential to lead to issues such as lost sales due to lack of stock.

These are the kinds of things that you need to consider to ensure the success of your firm.

Overall, teams that are willing to adapt their strategy based on continuous analysis and competitor’s actions will be able to turn their performance around. In addition to that, once you reach Year 4 and the new markets become available your team will have an opportunity to take the lessons learned and apply this to a new product.

Essentially, in order to bounce back from making bad decisions, you have to analyze your current situation and take this into account when planning ahead. Implement your strategic decisions, be sure to follow the sensitivities of your consumers and adapt your strategy with your competitor’s actions.

In Summary

Conrad Hilton said, “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”

Success starts within you. You have the power to achieve your goals, if you have the will to try and do what needs to be done in order to get there. Start by asking questions, conducting research and giving your best in everything that you do.

If you have any questions, please feel free to click here and fill out a form or email us at

By Camille Canuto

Smartsims' New Logo (portrait)

People Development and Learning Through Simulation

A Highly Effective and Powerful Learning Methodology For Learning both Hard and Soft Business Skills

By Don Jones

It has been known for thousands of years that experience is a powerful way of learning. The famous and often quoted words of the 6th Century B.C. Chinese Philosopher Lao Tsu echo the ancient wisdom that underlies the modern day basis for why experiential learning in one form or another has stood the test of time as a highly effective learning tool. ” I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. ”

Today, close to 70% of corporations are using business simulations as part of their repertoire of training methodologies to educate their management and staff at all levels. One of the many reasons for this is that experiential learning programs have very high information retention rates amongst participants. A study in Training and Development Journal, stated: ” People retain about 25% of what they hear, 45% of what they see and hear, and 70% of what they see, hear and do. ”

Another study conducted by Linda B. Specht, CPA, J.D., and Petrea K. Dandlin, CPA, Ph.D., led both to the conclusion that simulations were equally good at teaching a new skill or idea as traditional methods, but they were clearly superior in long term retention of the information processed. The research is in. Simulations are a tried, tested and proven effective way of teaching a wide range of knowledge and skills without the costs and risks associated with trial and error learning in the real world; and they do this in dramatically compressed time frames.

Thumbnail for new product launch tutorial video

Tutorial Video: How To Launch A New Product in MikesBikes Advanced

The video above will show you how you can launch a new product in the MikesBikes Advanced Strategic Management Simulation.

The written script for the video is below:

“In MikesBikes Advanced, you can choose to undertake Product Development to enable you to launch new products and modify existing products. In this short video, I will demonstrate the process of launching a new product. For detailed instructions on how to do this, please watch the MikesBikes Advanced Video 5 – Design & Development, both of which are available under the Manuals and Videos of the Smartsims website once you log in.

To launch a new product, you first need to navigate to the Design and Development Menu and click on the New button. This will allow you to create a new project.

On the decision screen, we will decide to create a project to enter into the Leisure segment.

Name the Project first.

We can now select Style and Tech Specs. We can see the consumer preference for the Leisure segment is at around 51 Style and 10 Technical, so we will enter these figures. When you tab out of the decisions, you will notice that the Prime Cost has auto-updated to $55, being calculated by the simulation itself, so leave it as it is.

We can also see that the recommended expenditure for next period is $1m, so leave that as is, and Apply your decision.

Now remember, a project only becomes available to launch as a product after one period in the simulation. In Single-Player, you can process the rollover yourself, while in the Multi-Player, you will need to wait for the rollover to be processed.

After the rollover, navigate to the Products Screen, and then click on the Launch button. The project that was created before the rollover has now become under the Select Project menu. So we will first enter a product name, then click on the New Leisure project, and then Apply. This completes the process of successfully launching a new product. You should also watch the MikesBikes Advanced Video 5 – Design & Development if you have not already done so.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to email us.

The Solution to Student Dropout Rates

Student dropout rates cause serious concern for society and higher-education institutions. A 1993 study showed 40% of students leave without receiving a degree and 75% of those drop out within the first two years of college (Tinto, 1993). This has shown little improvement over time. In 2013 only 59% of students of students graduated within 6 years of beginning a 4 year degree (NCES, 2014). This should be a real concern for higher-education institutes as studies show students are several times more expensive to win back than retain (Joseph et al., 2005).


Students who stop studying, according to Keaveney and Young (1997), are either not committed to the university or to their degree. Researchers discoverd this was the result of no satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the college experience. Studies found that course content and faculty support were the main driving factors to student satisfaction (DeShields, Kara & Kaynak, 2005).

Higher-education is increasingly being recognized as a service industry. By placing a service lens on this phenomena we can determine student satisfaction is derived from expectation (Swan & Combs, 1976). While student expectations may differ from institution to institution; there is still the overarching expectation from all students that higher-education should improve their career prospects. This is reflected in the DeShields, Kara and Kaynak’s (2005) study which discovered factors contributing to course satisfaction were derived from real-world relevance, course scheduling and the development of skills.

In contrast to these well-understood expectations, unemployment and underemployment rates of recent graduates are significantly higher than in previous years. Approximately 44% of young college graduates in the 20-30 age range are either unemployed or underemployed (New York Fed, 2014). This means 44% of graduates are not yielding a return on the investment in their future.

To redress these issues, higher-education institutes must adopt a market-oriented approach to satisfy expectations, and therefore, reduce student dropouts. When adopting this approach, there are questions that need to be asked:

“What are employer’s looking for?”

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (Forbes, 2015) outlines the three top desirable skills sought by recruiters:

1) Ability to work in a team structure

2) Ability to make decisions and solve problems

3) Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside the organization

“What are the best methodologies and methods to teach these skills?” 

Designing a course which meets student and employer expectations requires us to address the question of how to deliver content. Despite students placing value in the formal lecture, both students and instructors find it ineffective (Sanders, Stevenson, King & Coates, 2000). There are many new engaging methods for content delivery due to recent changes in technology. Teaching resources and methods of content delivery have seen dramatic change. MOOCs have risen in the form of Kahn Academy and iTunes U. Students are choosing and picking the content they’re consuming as well as getting involved with active learning practices. Increased access to knowledge and information empowers individuals to adopt a more active role (Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2004). That is to say students are no longer content being passive consumers of education.

In acknowledging all of these factors; higher-education institutions are presented with a number of solutions. Each has the potential to satisfying student’s expectations and reducing student dropout rates, whilst also maintaining a high quality learning experience:

Experiential Learning: Based upon behaviourial learning theories; Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) stresses the importance of direct experience and reflective observation (Kiili, 2005). In essence, non-stop learning with a continuous learning feedback cycle which provides a basis for goal-directed action.

Examples of Experiential Learning Methods: Business Simulations, Flipped Classrooms, Role-Playing, and Reflective Work Experience.

Active Learning: A process whereby students engage in activities, such as reading, writing, discussion or problem solving activities that promote analysis, synthesis and evaluation of class content.

Examples of Active Learning Methods: Business Simulations, Flipped Classrooms, Case studies, Role-Playing, Group projects, and Peer Teaching.

In summary, student dropouts are a significant cause of concern for higher-education institutions as well as for the betterment of an educated society. To maintain student engagement, students need relevant materials aimed at improving their employability. Higher-education institutions not only need to address concerns regarding course content but how content is delivered. Traditional teaching methods are considered ineffective by both instructors and students. However, there are many alternate teaching methodologies which are proven to be effective in engaging students and also improving employability.

By Brook McFarlane.