Twitch Plays BOMControl

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Video game controller

With rumors flying around about Google’s potential $1 billion purchase of Twitch, it got me thinking about how Twitch Plays Pokémon —a social/gaming experiment— relates to product development and product lifecycle management (PLM).

Twitch, a live-streaming website focused on videogames, has been one of the most popular websites for the past two years and currently gets about 45 million unique monthly viewers.

For those uninitiated with this niche of internet, Twitch Plays Pokémon refers to a channel where viewers collaboratively work towards beating the videogame Pokémon Red. This is done through thousands of individuals simultaneously typing commands into a chat box. These commands are queued up and relayed to the game. Then, chaos ensues.

So how does this all relate to Product Lifecycle Management? Let me explain.

When the game first started and the number of participants was low, it was much easier to discuss strategy and make progress towards becoming a Pokémon Master. This is similar to the early stages of a start-up company. When you’re all working out of a garage, it’s easier to holler across the room, collaborate and keep everyone on the same page. But even as a start-up, once you create a BOM, start sourcing parts, and engage your supply chain, it’s easy for pandemonium to reign.

Once the game went viral and thousands of people joined efforts to defeat the Elite Four, progress ground to a halt. The number of influencers and commands grew too large for the game’s infrastructure and there was no way to form a cohesive strategy. It was a digital Tower of Babel. By its conclusion, it was estimated that over one million individuals inputted over 122 million commands into the game. After some tweaks to the processing mechanics and a couple deadline extensions the players were able to progress to the final bosses. The gamers ultimately won. Yay!

In the end, it took over 391 hours to complete a video game that a ten year old could complete in thirty.

Does this chaos remind you of your attempts at collaboration during your current product development processes? We hear this tale of woe from far too many product companies that rely on Excel spreadsheets for their BOMs and paper-based engineering change orders (ECOs ) to manage their product data. Everyone is trying to work together and give their input, but without a system to make sure their input is structured many pieces of valuable information get lost. And to make matters worse, they detest it. Interestingly, they are both miserable and self-aware. When we asked a manufacturer how they manage their product data, they shared, “It is a very embarrassing situation; we don’t like to talk about it.”

We think it’s time to start talking about it.

Whether you’re a large product company that outsources all over the planet, or just getting started, groups that work collaboratively need visibility and accountability to help properly manage any new product introduction/development initiative. Arena PLM is your electronic cheat-sheet that gives structure to your BOM and provides efficient ways to share product data with the teams that build your products as well as your supply chain stakeholders. Not to mention a leg up on your “button-mashing” competition. To see how Arena PLM can help your company contact us today.


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About the Author

Patrick Monk
Patrick Monk started his career working as a Research Associate at Nestlé Health Services and Genentech. After making a career switch he joined the Marketing Department at Arena Solutions in ... Read More 

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