The [MikesBikes] business simulation does a superb job of teaching students to link concepts with experience and motivating them toward their future studies in business.
COLBY, A., EHRLICH, T., SULLIVAN, W. & DOLLE, J. (2011) RETHINKING UNDERGRADUATE BUSINESS EDUCATION: LIBERAL LEARNING FOR THE PROFESSION
Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education: Liberal Learning for the Profession Textbook
What the book covers: Business is the largest undergraduate major in the United States and still growing. This reality, along with the immense power of the business sector and its significance for national and global well-being, makes quality education critical not only for the students themselves but also for the public good.
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s national study of undergraduate business education found that most undergraduate programs are too narrow, failing to challenge students to question assumptions, think creatively, or understand the place of business in larger institutional contexts. Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education examines these limitations and describes the efforts of a diverse set of institutions to address them by integrating the best elements of liberal arts learning with business curriculum to help students develop wise, ethically grounded professional judgment. (Google Books)
MikesBikes at Santa Clara University
The textbook covered MikesBikes in Chapter 3 on “The Challenges of Undergraduate Business Education.” They interviewed a Santa Clara University instructor on how MikesBikes is currently used in the Contemporary American Business Course – a course that is required for all entering business majors at the Leavy School of Business.
MikesBikes in Contemporary American Business Course
[MikesBikes] provides a “liberal arts” experience in that it gives the “broad exposure” that is the aim of a survey course. And certainly we were impressed with students’ level of engagement, intellectual energy, and seriousness – qualities one wants to see in all aspects of a college education.
INSTRUCTOR FROM SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY
Santa Clara University has been using MikesBikes for many years now. The course is designed to provide an overview of business as a field.
The course includes standard classroom presentations, multiple choice examinations and one-third of the students final grade is dependent on their performance in the MikesBikes simulation. They run the simulation for the whole semester.
The first half of the semester allows the students to get familiar with the simulation and concepts through the Single-Player, practice phase. In the second half, they work in teams and compete against other teams in the course to achieve the highest Shareholder Value.
In MikesBikes, students are given an opportunity to work in marketing, production, product development, finance and accounting. Each member of the team are responsible in making decisions in these functions, allowing them to develop and make complex strategic decisions.
The course through the use of the MikesBikes business simulation provides students with an experiential learning environment, allowing them to take on realistic roles in a manufacturing bike company. They learn how to think critically and coordinate a management strategy. They experience the highs and lows of running a business, the excitement and risks all in a fun, and safe learning environment. In addition, working in teams allow them to learn about the importance of trustworthiness and integrity.
Reference: Colby, A., Ehrlich, T., Sullivan, W. & Dolle, J. (2011) Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education: Liberal Learning for the Profession, Stanford, CA: Wiley.
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This article will be a three-part series introducing the market segments in Music2Go Marketing Business Simulation. In this article, we’ll be talking about the Standard Segment.
Market Segments in Music2Go Marketing
There are three market segments in Music2Go – Standard, Youth, and Sports (Multi-Player only).
These segments have different sizes, projected growth, sensitivity to price, advertising, distribution, and product specs.
You start with a single MP3 Player product in the Standard market segment. Starting in Year 3 (after 2nd rollover) you may improve your existing product and/or launch additional products into new market segments (up to a maximum of 4 products by Year 6). Part of the challenge of Music2Go is in being able to balance the needs of your products within your limited marketing budget.
Consumers in this segment tend to be less active than those in the Sports segment and thus do not require the high level of technological specifications inherent in sports designs. While young adults in this segment share the purchasing ability of their sports counterparts, they are more price conscious, which is reflected in the relative pricing between these two segments.
Medium priced ($85 – $100) with high price sensitivity
Price range is $40 to $120, but the recommended range is $85 to $100.
Medium sensitivity to advertising
High sensitivity to distribution coverage
Low sensitivity to product specifications
Consumer style / tech spec preferences change slowly, so segment moves
slowly on perceptual map.
Since consumers in this segment are highly price sensitive, you can expect some price competition. Plan for this with cost reduction projects to maintain acceptable unit margins. However, be careful of engaging in a price war. No one wins a war. This is the slowest moving segment and has low sensitivity to product specs. So you may only require a single product spec improvement project midway through the simulation to remain competitive. It is the largest of the three segments but has minimal underlying growth.
You will be selling a single Standard Segment music player in the first two years of the simulation. After the 2nd rollover you may launch additional products into the Youth and Sports segments (Multi-Player only).
Making mistakes simply means you are learning faster.
Who likes making mistakes? Majority of us probably don’t like making one or try our best to avoid it.
In school, we always thrive to do the best we can to avoid making mistakes in our exams or essays to avoid failing.
At work, would you hire someone who says they often make mistakes or promote someone who constantly does? Majority of employers probably wouldn’t.
Here at Smartsims Business Simulations, we believe that we often learn best and the most when we fail, and make mistakes. This allows us to look back, analyze what and where we have gone wrong and restart. If there’s an opportunity, we can also get feedback from our mistakes. This gives us a brand new start to take action and hopefully never make the same mistake again.
However, realistically, we seldom get a second shot to do all these, right? Professors in universities will rarely allow you to redo an exam you already failed. You won’t get another shot of winning that soccer match you already lost. You would lost an opportunity to get promoted if you missed your quota.
Good news is with Smartsims Business Simulations, failure and mistakes are encouraged!
The foundation of simulation-based learning is that we learn by doing. Our objective is to give students an opportunity to have their own business experience, and mirror what it’s like in the real world. This allows them to take responsibility over their own learning and become personally engaged with the content. They get to manage their own company in a fun and safe environment, while allowing them to learn through trial and error, testing different decisions and strategies.
Every business simulation includes a practice and competitive application. Once students are familiar with the simulation format, their teams develop strategy and make key decisions for their organization. Students use real-time market and business reports to effectively analyze market conditions; develop strategy; and, evaluate the impact of their choices.
All our business simulations provide students with a platform to develop an understanding of business concepts, make strategic and critical decisions, and allow them to see the immediate impact of their decisions.
Here, failure is encouraged and allowed, so that they can try better approaches and methods.
Provide your students with a unique learning opportunity and take your course to the next level with Smartsims. Contact us to learn more.
You want to get product development projects right the first time as this can be a costly mistake. It can mean either your Unit Prime Cost is higher than you want and/or your specifications are not as you wanted resulting in a lower demand for your product if they are wrong.
There could be two reasons why your project failed:
1. The project/budget expenditure was too low and/or 2. The requested unit prime cost was unrealistically low
As in real life, you do not want to commit to a product development project without checking that it was appropriately funded and that it would be able to provide an acceptable return on investment.
In addition, you have to be careful that the specifications you enter for your new product actually fall close to the ideal point of the segment you are targeting. Look under Key Reports for Perceptual Map of Market Segments to check this. Products outside the radius of influence (i.e. outside the circles) will not sell at all.
How do we conduct successful development projects?
We will walk you through an example where we develop the design for a racers bike. While the specifics and calculations may change, the steps you follow will be the same:
1. View the Indicative Values for Market Segments within the Product Development Scenario Information report to view the ideal product attribute levels desired by each segment.
(Note: These desired product attributes by each market segment change slightly from year to year so be sure to keep monitoring for the changes.)
2. Take the current Style/Tech Specs of your closest existing Design Project and calculate the required change in Style/Design and Technical Specs.
In our example, the closest existing Design Project is our Adventurer Bike. You can view the Product Development Project Results Report to view your closest existing design paying attention to the Style/Design and Technical Specs:
3. Calculate the difference in Style and Technical Specifications between the desired design and the closest existing design.
As you can see, in this example, our only and closest existing design project is our Adventurer product. This features specifications of 50 Style and 60 Technical. Our desired design project has targeted specifications of 20 Style and 86 Technical.
So the difference is 30 Style and 26 Technical.
We can see on the Product Development Scenario Information report that each unit of Style development costs $1000 and each unit of Technical development costs $20,000.
Our example calculation will be:
30 x $1,000 added to 26 x $20,000 = $550,000
Therefore, our design cost would be $550,000 on the new design to achieve 20 Style and 86 echnical.
4. Calculate your prime cost.
From the table above we can see that the prime cost will be calculated at roughly $0.1 to $0.15 per design and $4.50 to $5.00 per technical specification. We want a racers bike with 20 style/design and 86 technical specifications.
A conservative calculation would therefore be:
0.15 x 20 added to 5.00 x 86 = $433
If we enter any additional expenditure on to our design cost this will be used to further reduce the Prime Cost.
Note:This does NOT mean you should always aim super low with target Prime Cost. If you aim too low, then your project won’t have enough money to achieve its objectives and you will miss your style / tech spec targets as well as your prime cost target.
How do I correct a failed product design?
A failed product design is a design that shows anything less than 100% success rate within the Product Development Results Report. Unfortunately this means you will need to design the design again. However! The failed design is likely to be a lot closer to your desired specifications than the previous closest design, thus it means it is likely to be cheaper to invest in. Simply follow the process above again working off the new closest existing design (even if the closest existing design is a failure).
A comparison of your product’s Customer Relationship Management Options with its competition.
CRM Decisions In AdSim
In AdSim you are required to make decisions about four elements of your Customer Relationship Management strategy:
Decide whether or not you want to invest in a Customer Relationship Management database system? And if so what type? e.g. Entry level, Mid-Level or Custom Built.
What length of Warranty that you want to offer your customers? E.g. 90 Days, 180 Days, One Year or Two Years.
What level of a customer service do you want to provide? E.g. A manual, a website too, an e-mail helpdesk, or a telephone helpdesk too.
What type of customer loyalty program do you want to administer? E.g. nothing at all, a regular newsletter, a regular photo contest or even a photo school.
On each tab of the decision screen, i.e. CRM System, Warranty, Support and Loyalty you are required to choose which option you think best targets your customers within your budgetary constraints.
Note that each option has a cost associated with it and that amount will be deducted from your Promotion Budget if you select that option. Generally the greater the cost of the option, the more appeal it will have to your market.
Disruptor Daily featured Smartsims’ CEO, Dennis Gain to understand how Smartsims is using AI to transform education, and what the future of the education industry holds.
Smartsims began as we wanted to provide students with an experiential learning environment to bridge theories and concepts taught in class with real-life experience (you can read more about our history here).
We use Artificial Intelligence in our simulations through our use of robot competitors to replicate human competitors. This is most especially helpful in online courses that want to replicate a similar experience to students in campus.
One of the benefits of this for students is they are able to demonstrate working in team environments, exemplify an understanding of business problem-solving and fully represent themselves as capable professional candidates.
Being evaluated on shareholder wealth is significantly different from evaluation based on net profit, market share, or earnings per share.
You should aim to:
Maximize net profit
Minimize shareholder investment
Minimize risk (associated with high levels of debt)
Due to these multiple objectives, a small niche marketer consistently earning good margins and without much debt may outperform a large heavily-indebted firm with earnings several times greater.
Firms will need to carefully consider these objectives when developing their overall strategy, their marketing, operational and financial plans. Simply increasing in size will not necessarily lead to an increase in shareholder value. You should only invest money (for example in new plant, new product development, or on factory improvements) if you believe that the return on these investments will be greater than what shareholders could achieve elsewhere at the same level of risk (e.g. shareholders can earn returns of 8% by investing in a term deposit). If not, you should instead consider repaying debt, paying a dividend, or repurchasing issued shares.
Devon Palmer (pictured above), a student of Professor Harold Lowe from Nova Scotia Community College has previously used our MikesBikes Introduction simulation in his Business course. Upon completion, he was asked by Professor Lowe to also trial both Music2Go Marketing and AdSim Advertising simulations for his work placement.
The review below is written by Devon. He shares his point of view on the AdSim Advertising simulation and some advice on how to do well in the simulation. He also created a few videos on both Music2Go and AdSim business simulations, which you can watch at the end of his review.
“AdSim is a computer-based Advertising Simulation of the Digital Camera division of a Consumer Electronics Corporation. You get the opportunity to experience and understand many of the key decision required to plan and implement an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Plan.
AdSim will give you the opportunity to have practical hands on experience at making critical advertising decisions and seeing the outcome in a live, interactive case study.”
The goal of the AdSim simulation is to maximize your Cumulative Net Marketing Contribution.
How do you do this?
The first step is renaming your firm. This is available to you both in Single-Player as well as Multi-Player. Being able to make this decision gives the simulation a personal feel, rather than just being “Company #12452”. Your two market segments that you get to advertise and sell your product to are the Existing and New markets. Unlike other simulations that allow you to have multiple products in multiple market segments, AdSim only has the one camera that goes into the two segments.
As this is the advertising simulation, your main contribution is the Advertising Plan. Your main goal is to set your advertising budget and allocate it among the five areas; TV, Radio, Magazines, Newspapers, and Interactive Digital Media. While other simulations, like MikesBikes or Music2Go, also give you this option, AdSim goes a step further allowing you to allocate within those five areas. This is more in-depth and a great addition, especially for an advertising class.
Within the TV advertising you may allocate to four segments, Network TV, National TV, Local Spot TV, and Cable TV. Even further, you can allocate your budget into the Network TV segment into six more segments. These range from Early Morning to Late Fringe times of day.
Newspapers have four segments as well, which include, General, Business, Tabloid, and Sunday.
You can also further allocate within the General segment to five geographical regions such as North and South East, North and South West, and Central.
Magazines have five categories that you can advertise in, Women’s Lifestyle, Men’s Lifestyle, Entertainment, Family, and News.
The Women’s and Men’s Lifestyle choice further breaks down into four more choices based on the age of the customer. These are, Youth 12-17, Adults 18-34, Adults 35-55, and Adults 55+.
Radio gives you six station formats to choose from, these are, Contemporary Hit Radio, Urban, Country, Rock, Adult Contemporary, and Newstalk.
The Country Station gives you the option of allocating your budget between the five geographical regions.
The Adult Contemporary Stations allocated between various peak listening times ranging from Morning Drive to Nighttime.
Finally, the Interactive segment is new and unknown in this simulation. It gives you two choices of allocation, Direct Mail and Internet. They recommend experimenting within this segment to see how effective it is.
After doing multiple simulations and seeing how the advertising plan selections work, I find that AdSim does it best out of all other Smartsims simulations I have used. The option to further allocate my budget into different areas is a great choice and would greatly benefit any other simulation. It is also very easy to use and understand as you just need to make sure your “pie-chart” equals 100%. Reading the reports for Chapter 2 of the Player’s Manual will put you in the right direction on how to effectively use each segment to their absolute best.
Another part of the AdSim simulation is the Agency Selection. Here you decide on either trusting yourself to choose your media selections in a custom plan. This is a high-risk, high-reward option in my opinion. As you may select the right numbers in the right segments, but if you don’t do that it can be disastrous. I recommend only using a Internal Plan if you do the research beforehand. The other three options for your agency include TV Magic, Print Works, and Radio Can. These have their obvious strengths in one area, or two in the case for Print Works, but are still better than the default plans for each segment. I recommend picking one of these three agencies as they will give you good results when used correctly.
This is where you pick how you want your digital camera to appear on the market, as well as who you want to target. You have four decisions to make in each of the four categories, Target, Benefit, Proof, and Personality.
To make these decisions all you have to do is click the one you want and then click “Apply.” Target is who you are targeting to sell your camera to – Professional, Amateur, Recreational, or Family. Then you select the Benefit of your camera, Simplicity, Small Size, Picture Quality, or Feature Packed. After selecting your Benefit, you will need to select the Proof, which are, Lens, Focus, Digital Chip, or Direct Printing. The final message you will convey to your customers is the Personality of your camera. The options include Simple and Reliable, Fun and Exciting, Precise and Efficient, or Thoughtful and Nostalgic.
There are reports you can read that give you an insight on which choices to make to maximize in your desired market. Like the other choices you are able to make, these are extremely easy to make and understand as its just a simple click to decide.
Customer Relationships is another feature made available during the simulation. The options for these screens are: CRM System, Warranty, Support, and Loyalty. When choosing your CRM System, you are given four options, to not have one at all, an Entry-Level, a Mid-Level, or a Custom system. These decisions require a bit more research than others, but by reading the chapter section about CRM, as well as the reports about it, will help you in making your CRM, if you choose to have one.
The Warranty selection give you the choice of what kind of warranty you’d like to offer to your customers: 90 days, 180 days, 1 year, or 2 years. Support is how your customers will go about fixing any issues with the product. This is offered by a manual, a website tool, an email helpdesk, or a telephone helpdesk. The last option is the Loyalty program. You can choose not to have one, having a regular newsletter, a regular photo contest, or offering a Photo School. Information on making these decisions are available in various market research reports.
Later in the simulation, you will be given the opportunity to make the Marketing Communications decisions. This gives you the option of four choices, Sales Promotions, Trade Promotions, Sponsorships, and Public Relations.
Sales Promotions give the customer something a little extra when purchasing your product over the competitors, for example a bonus memory card. Trade Promotions are similar to Sales Promotions but give benefits to a Retailer instead. Sponsorships are a way to boost exposure for your product at a specific event. Public Relations is hiring PR consultants to attempt to promote towards journalist interest into writing reviews about your product. Again, there are reports you can read to give insight into which options to choose and when choosing the options, they are straightforward and simple to make.
Market Research reports are available to purchase every year, with new and updated reports available every year. The price of these reports vary from $25,000 to $50,000 and can give you very valuable information that can help you win. Some reports are more important to buy than others, while some are not worth buying at all, so make sure you know what you’re looking for before purchasing.
I feel the price for these reports are very worth it, especially if you were to purchase a report you didn’t need or felt didn’t give you the right information. There are reports that the Player’s Manual recommends purchasing, and I completely agree as the information that is given is highly useful in dominating the market, especially early on.
In conclusion, I highly recommend the AdSim simulation by Smartsims for any class or business looking for business simulations that have a focus on Advertising. It gives you the right amount of content where it feels complete and spreads it out evenly throughout the rollovers.
For me personally, my class at NSCC Pictou would have greatly appreciated using this simulation during our first semester in our second year, as we had both an Advertising class as well as a Market Research class. It would have fit perfectly in our schedule as well as setting us up for our final semester where we challenged our Management counterparts to the MikesBikes simulation.
I give this simulation a 9.5/10 and again, highly recommend it to any classes or business that would like to use a business simulation to teach the fundamentals of advertising and its affect on the business.
Here are the videos that Devon created for both AdSim and Music2Go:
The quote above by Ruben Chavez of Think, Grow, Prosper acknowledges the impact of experience as the best way to learn. This holds true with one of our students, Sharon Capps from University of St. Mary. She’s currently using the MikesBikes Advanced simulation in their Strategic Management course taught by Lisa Parrott.
The review below is written by Sharon. She shares her insight and lessons she has learned from the simulation.
There are some real benefits from this short-term and intense competition between our teams. We do not have time to get complacent, we are doing two rollovers a week now and constantly have to be reevaluating and making new decisions. We are also establishing the brand for our company through our strategic focus.
This game makes us become self-aware of what we do not understand and need to review so we can be more successful in the next round. What changes we make in one area and how they may impact another area positively or negatively.
Each of us are also discovering our strengths within our teams and what we can focus on that sets our company apart. We are also learning how to better evaluate our competitors and analyze what data we can see from the other teams. This helps us make calculated decisions based on what we think their next move may be and plan accordingly.
We are also learning to plan far ahead to anticipate growth and expansion, not just focus on the rollover within the next few days. Another business mainstay we are strengthening is to always focus on what our customers need and want (Kittaneh, 2015).
We are lucky within this game because we get a lot of helpful data in this area, but our teams have to constantly look at where our bikes fall on the perceptual maps.
Not sufficiently investing in training your staff, poorly paid workers and/or firing workers due to inaccurate capacity calculation will often result in a low skill and motivation index. In addition, another negative outcome of this is an increase in staff turnover rate, which means your products’ quality will also suffer.
So what should you do to ensure that your staff are highly motivated?
1. Pay your staff well
Workers are more motivated when they are paid well.
The average salary level you set will affect not only your bottom line, but also worker motivation and effectiveness. Factory workers are paid (on average) the rate you select. Administration staff are paid (on average) twice the rate. For comparison purposes, the average industry salary is $25,000 per year.
The graph below shows the motivation index achieved by changing the firm’s average salary from $25,000. The effect would be increased by sustaining the salary changes across succeeding years.
2. Train your staff
You need to think carefully about the relationship between your overall strategy and how employee motivation and employee skill levels relate to that, especially if your strategy is to be a low cost, high volume manufacturer.
In general, well trained and motivated workers are more productive than poorly trained workers, so you need to employ fewer workers to achieve a given level of worker capacity. If your workers are well trained and motivated you need fewer Administration staff.
Well trained workers are a significant factor in improving your internal quality. Workers are more motivated when they are paid more and when they are well trained. They are less motivated when you fire other workers as their feeling of job security decreases.
The graph below shows the effect of job cuts on morale and staff turnover rate.
Poorly motivated and poorly trained workers can contribute to significant staff
turnover (sometimes as high as 40% to 50% per year). That gets expensive because each worker than is replaced costs $4,000 to replace. Also each new worker arrives with a minimum level of training, so your average employee skill level is reduced which lowers your internal quality. So remember to maintain an appropriate balance in managing your workforce rather than using a ‘slave labor’ model even if your overall strategy is to be a low cost manufacturer.
3. Pay close attention to your workforce
Keep track of your staff’s Skill Index, Motivation Index and the Staff Turnover Rate by referring to the Manufacturing Quality Report every rollover. You can find this report in the Manufacturing menu > Reports tab and navigate down to the report.