Experiential Learning Gets a Face through ELiSA

By Team YS|4th Nov 2011
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ELISA

“Experiential learning is recommended to be part of any educational system. It means learning by doing and very well complements the traditional classroom teaching. It is actively being used in universities in developed countries. However in India, there is a long way to go to adopt experiential learning in university curriculum”, says Paraj Shrivastava, founder of SidApps Technologies Pvt. Ltd.Experiential learning benefits the students who after finishing their studies join companies with basic understanding of the functioning of an enterprise in an integrated manner. It is one of the steps to bridge the gap which exists between campus and corporate. As an embodiment of this technique, SidApps has come up with a simulation game called ELiSA.

Jubin Mehta from YourStory caught up with entrepreneur Paraj to know more about this. Excerpts:

Learning through interaction is definitely the best way. What was the spark to make this game?

While I was doing my part time Executive General Management program at IIM Bangalore in 2009, I was introduced to one business simulation game, which is an experiential learning tool but it was more of a business strategy game and had its limitations to cover business processes.

I thought of plugging that gap, so as to give an end to end perspective on the functioning of an enterprise, focusing on integrated business processes. Thus ELiSA (Enterprise Learning in Simulated Arena) was born. ELiSA is an attempt to demonstrate in a package, the learning which addresses the industry expectations from their employees to deliver superior organizational business performance. ELiSA is the catalyst to achieve these objectives.

Tell us a bit about your background.

I graduated in 1997 with a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from REC (now NIT) Jaipur and completed my Executive General Management Program from IIM Bangalore in 2009. I have 12 years of SAP domain expertise and an all-round experience of 14 years with a proven track record in consulting, product development, operations, project and people management.

What technology has gone into the making of the simulation?

One of the objectives for ELiSA game is to make it affordable for everybody. Keeping this objective in mind, we decided to use open source technologies like PHP and MySQL. The other organizational objective is to have a very minimal capital expenditure, which is very important for a start-up and so ELiSA game is hosted in a cloud environment.

How long did it take to roll out the final product?

It took one year to roll out the beta version of ELiSA game.

What kind of research went on to develop the content?

It required research in multiple disciplines in management such as strategy, planning, purchasing, production, marketing and finance. Lot of effort has gone in to study various simulation techniques to simulate the market environment and implement the one which best suits the requirement for ELiSA game. The third part of the research was to study the ERP modelling to develop our own simulator. The biggest challenge was to put together and integrate the inputs from subject matter experts in various areas which are very diverse in ELiSA game. We also brainstormed on the depth of content for the ELiSA game to keep it optimal for the suggested duration to play the simulation game.

When was the product launched and who are the end-users currently?

The product was launched in July 2011 and it is being used mostly by MBA and ERP institutes in B2B segment. We are awaiting approval from an Indian payment gateway and very soon it will be open to online purchasing by any individual in B2C segment, who would like to learn the basic concepts of business process integration.

The demo looks interesting. How long would an average simulation with thorough participation take?

There are two variants of the game. First variant needs to have a minimum of four human teams playing against each other in one simulated market. The second variant is for an individual who plays against three other computer virtual teams. Both variants are available in either two or four rounds, each round representing one financial year. It takes on an average four hours to complete the two rounds game and six hours for four rounds of game, which includes the preparation time.

Participants can anytime pause and logout from the system. They can resume later to continue.

How do you plan to promote the product?

In the B2B segment, we are currently in discussions with some large training organizations for strategic partnerships to offer ELiSA game in B-schools at pan India level. We are also in the process of having tie-ups with training providers to offer the ELiSA game to corporates. In B2C segment, the plan is to promote it online. We will soon come up with a reseller program to have ERP training institutes acting as reseller to offer ELiSA game to their enrolled students.

Tell us a bit about your clients.

At the moment, for the beta release of ELiSA game, my clients are mostly individual students and few MBA colleges in Bangalore. The plan is to increase the number of distribution points and have more channels to cover different segments.

Would the repetition of the simulation throw up different learnings if the same employee or student plays again?

The result of each simulation varies depending on the inputs by each team. The virtual team’s inputs are also not constant. However the learning is similar if the participant plays again. ELiSA game has 80 percent serious learning embedded in it, which is system driven and the rest is the gaming quotient.

What is your revenue model?

We are following the differentiation strategy and ELiSA game is offered on SaaS “Software as a Service” model. It is cloud hosted and available anytime, on demand and pay per use basis. It would be sold directly by SidApps over the internet to individual B2C customers. It would be sold to B2B segment (mostly MBA colleges and ERP institutes), largely through marketing partnerships and resellers.

Are more games in different fields in the pipeline at SidApps?

We plan to develop simulations specific to Finance, Marketing, Operations and Human Resources for which research work has started and hopefully we bring them in the next 18 months.

We are also interested in developing a project management simulation game, though we haven’t done any market survey in India, but in my opinion there is a need for it.

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