Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and SecondLife are four leading companies in the online world of social networking. What would happen if Apple suddenly jumped into the fray?
That was the challenge posed to 41 students at UC Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business during their day long final examination known as “war games” in Professor Leonard Lane’s strategy and competitive intelligence classes. Rather than huddle over test papers for their final exam, students were assigned either to Facebook, My Space, YouTube or SecondLife teams and spent the day trying to obtain the highest score from four judges. The students’ challenge was to prepare and present long range business plans and then develop, in 45 quick minutes, strategies for Apple’s mock announcement that it was creating “iTown,” a social networking website.
In the real business world, companies use war games to prepare their staff for such situations. The Merage School, according to Lane, is the first educational institution to insert war games into its regular curriculum. Fuld & Company, a competitive intelligence consulting firm, conducted Merage’s war game on June 1.
The Facebook team collected the highest score of the judges—Orange County business executives Chuck Martin, Linda Zimmer, Joel Calvo and Kathryn Campbell. But the final tallies were close. Facebook earned 62.4 points; YouTube, 61; SecondLife, 60.5, and MySpace, 57. The primary reason was that all four teams came to the same conclusion: their company didn’t have to make major strategy shifts when faced with Apple’s entry into the social network space. “iTown, schmi Town,” quipped one of the teams at the start of its presentation.
After the day long exercise, Lane said: “Using war games as the capstone experience of the school’s class in competitive intelligence helps students grapple with realistic learning experiences.”
Published: Summer 2007
Author: John Gregory