Simformer Business Cup 2016: The Recap test
Simformer Business Cup 2016: The making and the results of an international online management contest
Some time has passed since the ending of the first Simformer online management contest, and now it is a perfect time to take a look at it and remember the highlights of this remarkable event.
What is Simformer Business Cup
Simformer Business Cup is an international online management contest. There were 400 participants from 40 countries. The majority of the participants were students and academic staff from universities, colleges and business schools. However, the representatives of a corporate sector took part in the contest as well.
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The contest was of two stages, each stage taking place one month apart. The first stage began on 4 March and lasted two days. The second stage lasted one day (8 April).
The participants, whose companies had managed to generate profit by the end of the first stage, proceeded automatically to the second stage of the contest and became a part of the Professional League.
The Amateur League was created for the participants, who did not achieve positive results in the first stage, but still were enthusiastic and willing to compete in the contest.
The winners of the second final stage were selected based on 4 categories:
- Maximum Revenue,
- Maximum Profit,
- Maximum Assets,
- Maximum Performance Indicator.
Simformer Business Simulation- a virtual environment of the contest
Simformer Business Simulation is a virtual environment, containing all key business processes, functions, and macro factors, which imitate the real world of business. The participants have the chance to manage companies and corporations as well build manufacturing enterprises and retail empires.
Currently Simformer Business Simulation includes:
- 1 000 000 registered users,
- 50 000 active participants,
- More than 20 industries,
- More than 200 products and services,
- All key business processes and functions,
- Individual or group participation,
- Online 24/7/365,
- Accessible from any place in the world,
- Browser-based access,no additional applications are required,
- The possibility to integrate with internal systems,
- Unlimited number of participants,
- Automated participant ranking.
Preparing for the first stage. The training period
A week prior to the start of the first stage, the participants received access to Simformer Business Simulation virtual environment in order to learn more how the simulations works, its functions and test their skills before the actual contest. The final results of the contest have revealed that the ones who took advantage of this training opportunity performed significantly better.
The access to the simulation for training purposes was closed seconds before the biginning of the first stage of the contest. The beginning of any contest is always a slightly stressful event; fortunately, everything went smoothly, without any technical issues.
Quest for Business Excellence: Retail. The first (eliminating) stage
The game lasted for 30 hours, which equals to 30 weeks in the virtual simulation environment. The participants had access not only to the virtual business environment but to all the materials as well. «Quest for Business Excellence: Retail», a Quality Management course, was developed by Simformer specialists together with Dr. Dalius Serafinas, Vilnius University.
At the beginning of the contest each team received the same set of virtual business units: three stores in different geographical locations: a grocery store in the center of Barcelona (Spain), a supermarket in the center of Hamburg (Germany) and an auto salon in Los Angeles (The USA). The initial capital of each of the team was 10 000 000 in virtual currency.
The participants had the chance to enter the markets of 5 countries: The USA, Germany, Spain, Ukraine and Russia.
The teams could choose various types of businesses other than retail. They could step out of their comfort zone and invest into mining, manufacturing, wholesale, service sector, and R&D. A lot of participants used this opportunity and thought outside the box, which eventually helped them win at the end. They were able to expand their businesses: they established manufacturing and wholesale businesses and venture into the service sector. The final results revealed that the companies, which had a diverse chain of subdivisions (from manufacturing products and goods to selling them to consumers) were able to generate bigger amount of profit.
The participants of one of the teams, who proceeded to Simformer Business Cup second stage, shared their thoughts: The most difficult part was to be work the whole 30-hour period. Despite the fact that we were very tired and had very little sleep, it was a great experience and all of us became very good friends. The fact that we had to work within very strict timeframes was exciting: each time we had only one hour to make very important decisions.
Nowever, not everybody had such strong endurance: only 42% virtual companies were able to complete a 30-hour- period with a positive profit. The participants were greatly influenced by a high level of competition (they all worked in the same virtual regions) and pressure of the game. Only the strongest could win in such tough conditions.
The participants were accompanied by Minvydas Latauskas, the Head of Product Development at Simformer. At the beginning and at the end of each game update (excluding the night time) he hosted two online programs: «Business News» and «Breaking News», during which Mr. Latauskas talked about the situation in the virtual world: the results and ranking of virtual companies. During these online sessions the participants could ask questions and receive answers in the chat. The broadcasting was streamed through Webinato, a web hosting company for webinars and video conferences. In the last online session Mr. Latauskas revealed the final results of the contest. The results were posted in Simformer Facebook group, where the participants were posting throughout the whole contest.
Preparing for the second (final) stage of the contest. The training period
Three days before the start of the second stage of Simformer Business Cup, the participants of both Professional and Amateur Leagues received access to Simformer Business Simulation virtual environment. The game scenario used during the training period was the same as the one during the first stage. The game scenario of the second stage, however, wasdifferent: the participants had to lead their companies out of financial crisis. The participants did not know the scenario beforehand. This was done on purpose to make the second stage more intense and provide the participants with the opportunity to manage businesses in strenuous conditions. But the participants had all the materials that could help them: video materials with a lot of hints.
Corporation in Distress. The second stage
According to one of the participants: The feeling of waiting for the second stage of the contest was similar to waiting for Santa Clause. Finally, the second final stage has started. The game scenario of the second stage was a business game «Corporation in Distress». Each team received a huge corporation, which was faced with financial difficulties. The corporation consisted of various subdivisions, which are responsible for product manufacturing and sales. The weakest link in that subdivision chain are an auto salon and a clothes store. In order to improve the financial condition of the whole corporation, the participants had to show their market and financial analysis, management, and decision-making skills. The participants had to make very important decisions under very tight time constrains: only 8 hours!
The action of the game took place in the virtual equivalent of Las Palmas-de-Gran-Canary, Spain. The population of the town is approximately 400 000 people. There was an auto salon, a clothes store, a grocery store and a fast food restaurant.
The tasks, which the participants had to solve during the game:
- conduct company analysis,
- identify weak subdivisions,
- improve business processes weak subdivisions and reach a break-even point,
- increase the productivity in other subdivisions,
- develop and implement a business expansion plan.
Apart from unfamiliar scenario and strict timeframes, the participants had even more challenges prepared for them in the second stage. The initial capital was significantly smaller this time around- only 2 000 000 in virtual currency. Only 10 cities within one country were available, and the country of second stage was Spain-not the biggest market in the world. The participants had the possibility to grow their business only in two sectors: retail and catering. The conditions were apparently tough, but it added a considerate dose of excitement to the whole event.
Despite all the difficulties and obstacles, a lot of participants put in their best effort and managed to achieve tremendous results.
The participants found a great deal of support in Simformer Business Cup Youtube channel. Mr. Latauskas, who hosted online live meetings, provided support and guidance every hour. The ones who were not able to watch live sessions could later watch the recorded versions.
Simfromer Business Cup: the winners
The winner and the runner-up of the Professional League achieved the best results in all 4 nominations. Fun fact: the members of the winning team and the runner-up come from neighboring countries- Romania and Moldova. Nevertheless, they chose two completely different business strategies.
The team from the University of Craiova (Romania), which won the first place, consisted of 6 people. The team supervisor was Silvia Puiu, the lecturer at the University of Craiova. The team members wisely delegated the responsibilities among each other and were able to improve the weak points and lead the corporation out of financial crisis but also establish a well-developed business.
Denis Miscisin (Moldova), the runner-up of Simformer Business Cup, was competing on his own, without any team. He was very meticulous about managing his company and chose a vertical integration model. His company was a great success, and he achieved that on his own merit! Denis was also very enthusiastic about the contest and gave us a lot of useful ideas that we will have in mind when organizing future management contests.
It is worth mentioning that both the winning team and the runner-up were competing in contest first eliminating stage. Denis became the leader and, ultimately, the winner of the first stage. The University of Craiova team, however, were among the teams with best results.
The third place was divided among two teams from Ukraine (Zhytomyr State Technological University and Zhytomyr Ivan Franko State University) and Lithuania. Both teams were very careful with their investment moves and preferred not to take risks. They placed the main focus on improving all business processes of their corporations. But, most importantly, they were able to carry on and work steadily in a highly competitive market, which was caused by a big number of growing companies.
The ultimate leaders in the Amateur League were the teams from the University of Banking of the National Bank of Ukraine (Kharkov, Ukraine). All three teams form this university won the first, second and third places in the contest. It does not come as a surprise, since Simformer and the University of Banking of the National Bank of Ukraine are currently working on a program together, aimed at developing students’ skills and knowledge in financial risk management. Mr. Vladimir Soslovskiy, a lecturer and a program supervisor at the University of Banking of the National Bank of Ukraine, did a great job in preparing his student for the contest. The teams were a part of an Amateur League, because they were not able to take part in the first stage. Nevertheless, they managed to adapt to intense conditions of the contest and achieve impressive results. YuriyGladkiy, a 5th year Economics student, is the only Amateur League participant, whose company generated positive profit. Without any prior experience with the simulation, Juriy was able to achieve the highest results in various categories: integral performance indicator, company assets. The teams from the University of Craiova (Romania) and Vilnius University (Lithuania) and the team from the Netherlands were among the winning teams as well.
Silvia Puiu , a supervisor of 9 teams in total, the participant in both stages of Simformer Business Cup(The UniversityofCraiova, Romania):
Oh, this contest is amazing! I tried to find different programs for my students and today I asked them which simulation they liked the most and they said Simformer. So, this simulation helped me a lot with my course, because it creates an equilibrium between simple and complex, stable and dynamic, theory and practice, intense and relaxing (the messages they got were funny). The students understood the theoretical concepts better and when they did not understand them, they used the explanations provided by the simulation. They felt they did something practical and I felt how they became more confident. Confidence is very important because you can make lots of amazing things if you trust yourself.
Diana Bobaru , the captain of the winning team (The University of Craiova, Romania):
Simformer Business Cup is an opportunity that each of us should have. Simformer gave us the opportunity to learn how the real business is, to see how it is to order something from a supplier and not to receive it. I also learned what real obstacles young people, who are just getting started in the business, may face. But nothings beats the feeling of achieving the goals you set for yourself. Making decisions together helped us learn how to work in a team. There were 6 of us in the team and we all had the chance to apply our theoretical knowledge in practice.
AlenaTarakanova , the winner of the third place in Amateur League in «Maximum Assets» nomination, the University of Banking of the National Bank of Ukraine (Kharkov, Ukraine):
Simformer Business Cup 2016 was a great experience.It was engaging and intense, I was fully immersed in the process and spend the whole day working in the simulation.
Denis Miscisin ,the winner of the first stage and the runner-up in the second stage (Moldova):
It was fun participating and competing in Simformer Business Cup 2016. The game was very interesting and educational.
Catalin Bodae , the winner of the first place in «Maximum Assets» and the third place «Maximum Revenue» nominations in Amateur League (The University of Craiova, Romania):
In the second stage of the competition we didn’t have a lot of emotions because we had managed to gain experience and we knew that we can reach the top. Each team member took their duties seriously and with the previously gained experience we did very well. I think my team played very well, we know how to manage the problems and we can say that we played like professionals in Amateur League.
Sergey Menshchikov, Founder & CEO:
There are many reasons why we organized Simformer Business Cup 2016. First of all, we wanted to introduce our educational and training solutions to the international audience. We wanted to show that we offer a unique tool for practice-oriented learning of management. Secondly, we wanted to gain feedback about our platform from a large number of users. The third reason was that we wanted to try out different methods in organizing massive management contests on Simformer platform. Simformer Business Cup 2016 was our first competition and it was a success: we managed to attract hundreds of participants from 40 countries with mostly no marketing and advertising expenses! We can confidently say that Simformer is an unparalleled solution for such massive online events. The universities and as well as businesses can organize such online contests and competitions on Simformer platform on their own, choosing their own scenario, format, intensity, and the number of participants from any geographical location. Moreover, we wanted to see whether there is a demand for management contests in general. It turned out that there is a very big demand for such events, and Simformer is, apparently, the only educational platform that can satisfy the demands of education and corporate training market.
Dr. Andrei Fedorov, Education Program Director, PhD, Associate professor:
Simformer Business Cup has showed that the competitions on management do not necessarily have to be organized strictly for entertaining purposes, they can also serve as an effective educational tool, which helps develop one’s practical skills in business management. The contest has everything what it takes to motivate and engage participants: tough competition, tight timeframes, and the necessity to challenge yourself and confront thousands of other motivated participants. We chose such complex and intense game scenario on purpose: such extreme conditions help to reveal participants’ strengths and capabilities. In order to win, not only the participants had to know a thing or two about business managemtn and possess natural business acumen, but they also had to be able to work together and manage one virtual company. These factors are detrimental to having a successful business in real life. Ultimately, Simformer Business Cup has sufficiently combined both entertaining and educational elements.
Anton Makarevich, Chief Operating Officer:
We have developed a technical platform, which allows the organization of competitions on management in a very short time. The configuration is very flexible, and it is very easy to customize any educational or training event according to particular requirements, intensity and formats (online, onsite, blended) with an unlimited number of participants from any geographical location. Both the corporate world and academic sector could benefit from such competitions. We have business game scenarios developed specifically for corporate sector (e.g. lead the corporation out of financial crisis, run a start-up company). We can create any business game based on clients’ requirements. We have a lot of solutions for the academic sector as well: our virtual simulation environment can be used for applying students’ theoretical knowledge into practice, various academic competitions within a university or among several educational institutions. While conducting Simformer Business Cuр, we developed a business model, tested technical service level, and identified specific nuances that participants could encounter. We are very satisfied with the results of Simformer Business Cup. We are also more than happy to have received positive feedback from the participants.
Minvydas Latauskas, Head of Product Development:
Simformer “Biz News” and “Insight of the Week” were two live internet news shows meant to help the participants of SBC 2016. “Biz News” is started at the beginning of each hour (or virtual week, as SBS Intensive is used). The results of latest turn are covered and commented – the rating, changes in the virtual markets, that participants were developing their businesses in. “Insight of the Week” starts in the second part of the hour. As the name suggests, a deeper analysis is provided about the businesses of the participants, various functionality of the simulation that could help the participants improve their results, as well as answering questions of the participants.
Comparing Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the SBC 2016.
Technology. On Stage 1 we used a conference room, which provided an active online chat for participant support. However, not everyone is used to this kind of service, therefore we switched to YouTube live events for Stage 2. Participants could also type in their question in chat window or post them in Simformer Facebook group. Either way, from my experience, I believe we are going to use YouTube, as it proved to be quite handy and is easily accessible. Action. Stage 1 was used for training and allowed the participants to explore the simulation – there were a lot of different business structures created. Stage 2, however, was essentially more intensive and complex, as participants had noticeably smaller amount of resources as well as time. Switching from 30 to 8 hours/turns, made very big difference in the intensity of the business battle. I couldn’t say, that less hours to cover made my job easier 🙂 due to the increased intensity of action, the news became more intensive as well. It’s a pity not all the participants were watching the news, as it contained lots of useful information.
We would like to express our gratitude to all Simformer Business Cup participants. Without you and your enthusiasm we would not be able to turn this idea into reality! Thanks to you our virtual environment became a real battlefield: you were competing, learning from your mistakes, and challenged each other and yourselves. We would like to thank all the lectures for instilling a thirst for knowledge in your students, and HR specialists for thinking outside the box and choosing an innovative solution for the employee training. We would like to thank the press for covering Simformer Business Cup in various media outlets as well as the participants who were spreading the word about the event in social networking sites, university forums, and video streaming services. Simformer Business Cup is a proof that organizing management competitions is achievable: all you need is a strong team and an interesting game scenario. If you are interested in conducting your own competition on management, Simformer can offer you a vast spectrum of interesting and engaging business games.