Tata Interactive Systems and the shape of the simulation industry.

A recent press release drew my attention to Tata Interactive Systems(TIS), which claims to offer “a range of services to chart the learning path that is best suited for your organization. From animations to assessments, simulations to sales training, courseware to consulting”.

Two thoughts:
– firstly, this company has over 700 employees (“project managers, content developers, 3-D animators and modellers, software engineers and instructional designers”). It has the backing of the Indian Tata group, which claims revenues in 2003-04 of $14.25 billion, the equivalent of about 2.6 per cent of Indias GDP. TIS claims clients such as Abbey National, American Honda Finance Corporation, British Airways, Citigroup, Cigna, ExxonMobil, GE, GlaxoSmithKline, Hewlett Packard, Motorola, McKinsey & Co., McGraw-Hill, UNICEF and Unilever. It has seven sales offices in the US, plus two in Europe.

– secondly, it is based in Mumbai, but has taken steps to overcome any stereotype of being a cut price outsourcing operation: it has all the certifications Ive heard of (ISO 9001, BS7799, Six Sigma) plus some I hadnt (SEI CMM and SEI P-CMM).

Simulation, like other IT industries, is fast becoming an international – indeed a supranational – industry. Theres no real advantage in being located anywhere (except possibly differences in labour rates… and possibly the fact that much simulation is for military purposes, and here there may be a bias towards domestic companies). I suppose the only other locational advantage is having native speakers of the English language.

Its interesting that the IT industry manages to sustain an image of itself as young and pioneering (and American), even though it is more and more dominated by big capital and the sort of certification paperwork that makes big client purchasing managers feel more secure in their jobs.

Noble exceptions are the open source software projects, like Perl or PHP or MySQL, or collaborative one-offs like Wikipedia.

(incidentally, the TIS website shows once again the problem of selling a complex service such as business simulations. TIS says:

“Traditionally, simulations have been vast, cumbersome, rigid, and expensive, in view of their focus on creating the real world in its entirety and magnitude. In contrast, Simulation Based Learning-Objects (SimBLsTM) simulate specific topics by substituting fidelity-to-concept for fidelity-to-reality, and thus aid focused learning.

SimBLsTM are interactive, self-contained chunks of learning content. They are byte-sized learning tools that replicate real-world scenarios, with their multiple variables and their corresponding relationships. SimBLsTM can be seamlessly integrated with other learning content and used in a classroom or in corporate training situations as discussion starters, pre-assessments, practice objects, or assessment tools.

In addition to being easy to use, SimBLsTM are economical as well and are available on a pay-per-use basis”

What does this mean? eg
“substituting fidelity-to-concept for fidelity-to-reality”?
“byte-sized learning tools”? (bite sized?)
Need a better copywriter here, I think…)

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