Artificial Intelligence in Business Simulations

Artificial intelligence (AI) textbooks define the field as the study of “intelligent agents”: any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals. Colloquially, the term “artificial intelligence” is often used to describe machines (or computers) that mimic “cognitive” functions that humans associate with the human mind, such as “learning” and “problem solving”.

from Wikipedia, Artificial Intelligence

AI has long been used in computer gaming to create virtual worlds in which players compete. Artificial intelligence systems are rarely seen in use, however, in corporate education settings.

Online business games are growing in complexity as they address the varied needs of corporate learners. That ever increasing complexity poses challenges for participants and trainers alike: How can training be efficient and effective yet remain personalized? How can a trainer quickly advise all participants on the scenario while proactively supporting them with their tasks? How can critical debrief sessions – the core of meaningful learning – be made available to unlimited numbers of participants immediately and simultaneously?

To solve these challenges, IndustryMasters has incorporated artificial intelligence capabilities within our business simulation games.

Using AI to Create Smart “Virtual” Managers

Every participant enters a business simulation with similar questions about how to participate successfully:  What is my virtual company’s financial, market and competitive situation? Which decisions can/must I make and how will they affect the company’s success? What are the inter-dependencies of these decisions?

We believe we have leveraged artificial intelligence to ease participants into our business simulations by including Virtual Managers. Virtual Managers propose a range of recommendations within their purview. Their recommendations may be limited to the data available, but they guide simulation participants to view situations at the micro, then macro level. Each recommendation may be accepted, rejected or modified by the participant. This allows learners to ramp up their comfort level and confidence in approaching the simulations challenges. As participants gain a better understanding of the simulation’s navigation, tasks, and requirements, they rely less on Virtual Managers and, instead, trust their own instincts and knowledge to guide them.

The introduction of Virtual Managers allows large numbers of participants to be trained in an asynchronous and efficient way. Trainers are still needed to answer specific questions, but they are no longer required to guide learners in introductory task instruction. Participants can activate or deactivate the level of support received from one, many or all of their Virtual Managers.

Arguably the most valuable AI function our simulations offer is that advice from these Virtual Managers is influenced by the level of on-boarding and motivation. Newly hired Virtual Managers don’t yet have the full picture of the organization. Therefore, their advice may not take all aspects into account – just as in real life. Similarly, managers who have not received adequate training or are not paid comparatively as well as their peers suffer in job satisfaction and motivation levels. These Managers are not likely to give as strong advice as counterparts who are happier and better trained in their role.

Automated Individualized Debrief Data

Trainers have many challenges while managing large groups of participants. When introducing a simulation event, the facilitator must provide participants an overview of the current market situation, the possible strategic approaches and an explanation of the general success drivers. Additionally, there are always questions at the role level (production, marketing, finance and HR) and specific data to be reviewed. In support of successful programs on a large scale, trainers can take advantage of our platform to provide virtual company evaluations at any time using an automated, dynamic SWOT analysis.

Situational debriefings are also be generated automatically including key figures with comparative values ​​for competitors. These are unique for each participant or team. When critical situations arise during competition, the facilitator receives warnings with specific information on how to proactively address a team and, if necessary, rescue their situation.

Artificial intelligence is growing in its use in a range of areas. In the field of corporate education, it can serve to increase the efficiency and delivery both for facilitators and participants.