SimCity creators simulate life in the telco fast lane

SimCity creators simulate life in the telco fast lane – Maxis’ Telesim simulation software

Jim DiLorenzo

A new software program will soon allow telephone operations managers to fine-tune their decision making skills–and see the results–without taking the real-life plunge. Managers at Pacific Telesis and Nynex, which bankrolled the product development, will receive the Telesim program this summer.

The training program, which also is being marketed to other telcos, is a takeoff on the popular urban planning game SimCity. In fact, Thinking Tools, which developed Telesim, is a spinoff of SimCity-creator Maxis.

In this simulated marketplace, software components represent problems, trade-offs, competitors and regulations similar to those that managers face in the real world. Telesim will enable managers to pilot a company through a simulated market, overseeing operations, maneuvering the business toward regulatory openings or away from technological threats, marketing new products, acquiring companies, balancing budgets and negotiating competing interests within the organization. They will then watch the consequences of their actions play out on the computer screen. The components interact and adapt to each other and to the decisions and actions of the Telesim user.

“Unlike competitive business, regulated firms did not have to look at the integrated economics of an industry,” said William Nusbaum, vice president of organizational architecture/design at Pacific Bell. “We need to teach managers to see the totality of what they do, not just the functional aspect.”

“Telesim is not for predicting what will happen with a particular strategy; it’s for exploring and discovering the meaning of strategies,” said John Hiles, a 23-year software development veteran and president of Thinking Tools.

“Most application programming strives toward a resolution of a problem,” Hiles added. “In Telesim we present the conflict in a true life form with realistic details and surprises. We don’t resolve the conflict.”

Telesim displays its simulated world in three ways. An interior view depicts the world inside a telecommunications company; the landscape view presents the company’s sales and service region; a third view called marketscape emerges from the landscape to represent marketplace opportunities and vulnerabilities.

“The most unique aspect of interactive digital media is that it provides multiple perspectives,” said Hiles. “When delivering multiple perspectives you show the aggregate, allowing you to look at the industry in a holistic way. And that’s important because competition at the local exchange is complex.”

Although Pacific Telesis and Nynex intend to initially target Telesim for use by operations-level managers, they eventually plan to make it available at multiple levels within their organizations.

For example, Nynex, which has divided its region into market areas managed by leadership teams, plans to use Telesim to develop new skills among team members to enhance customer responsiveness, said Tom Edwards, managing director of training and education at Nynex.

COPYRIGHT 1994 PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc. All rights reserved.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group