Can a Game Make a Manufacturing Career Sexy?

Susan Hall

My colleague Ann All has written about efforts to use games for all sorts of things, including UPS' employee training and SAP's efforts to transform enterprise software. Meanwhile, Mike Vizard wrote about IBM's CityOne, which asks players to manage a city using business process management.


So it only makes sense that games could be used for recruiting, Steve Boese writes at He points to online video game from Siemens called Plantville, featured in this Businessweek article:

[Plantville] simulates what it's like to run a manufacturing facility. The aim is to take three dilapidated factories and make them more efficiently meet customer orders by hiring employees, redesigning layout, and buying and installing new Siemens equipment.

Or as Boese decribes it:

Factory managers in Plantville have to hire and deploy workers, balance worker safety and satisfaction against production delivery schedules, and continuously adapt strategies to changing external conditions.

Businessweek portrays the game as an effort by Siemens, which makes power plants, scanners and trains, to boost sales of equipment and enhance employee knowledge of its products.


But Tom Varney, Siemens head of marketing communications, also says:

With Plantville, we think there's a big educational play with colleges and high schools. ... We have about 3,000 jobs posted in the U.S. at Siemens, many in technology or manufacturing. We're hoping to inspire a new generation of plant managers.

With a predicted shortage of workers with the skills for the next generation of manufacturing, that's a worthy goal.


In an aside, the Businessweek article also points to SAP's efforts to make a game for corporate directors. It's this quote by Reuven Gorsht, senior director of strategy and global pre-sales at SAP, that troubles me:

We're dealing with very high-ranking executives that sit on six or seven boards and may have a full-time job running a company. Their time is precious and their attention span is fairly low.

Is the solution to this a game or should these people be corporate directors? The game should be out in three to four months.

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