Pokémon and big data paves the way for commercial opportunities

22 August 2016

Daniel Wilde

Daniel Wilde

Global Head of SAP CoE

Not so long ago I hadn't heard of Pokémon GO and now it would seem that everywhere I go people of all ages are walking around hunting for these virtual creatures. I have known the Pokémon and the Nintendo brands for many years but haven’t really paid attention to either until recently. Now they’ve caught my eye they’ve not only started me considering the impact of Augmented Reality (AR) gaming, but I’ve also found myself thinking about the profitable possibilities it opens up for businesses who choose to be canny in their use of big data.

Dan-Wilde-Pokemon-content-picture.jpgFor all those out there who are still not in the know, I firstly question if you’ve perhaps been stranded on a desert island for the past month? Secondly, I’ll point you in the direction of Wikipedia for a clear explanation of what this phenomenon is Pokémon Go - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

So how does it work?

Everyone seems to consider this as an AR game but from what I have read and understood this is only a small part of the game. AR is a view of a physical world onto an electronic device where it combines the real-world environment and augments it with computer generated graphics, great I hear you say, if you’re 10!

Actually, there is much more to this game than AR. The initial thing that jumped out to me was how well it picked up on my geolocation. This is clearly important as the whole concept of the game is to walk around looking to capture these little critters. However, it does not stop there; the game uses Google Maps and has a huge database of real-world objects that are submitted by players to make up the Pokéstops. "What the blazers is a Pokestop?" I hear you ask. Following some research (I asked a 10 year old) it transpires that there are places in Pokémon GO that allow you to collect items such as eggs and Poke Balls which in turn allows you to capture more Pokémon. This vast amount of data utilised, coupled with the significant user base, is big data working at its best!

What are the business opportunities?

Now let’s just pause for a second. We have a game that had more downloads than any other app on both Android and Apple. Putting to one side that this is the first time parents have been able to stop bemoaning the fact their kids are couch potatoes and getting ‘no exercise’, let's consider what this means to the everyday business on the high street and how this could easily be one of the biggest breakthroughs in digital marketing for a long time.

The big question here is evident to me: how can organisations utilise the mammoth amount of structured data collected by the game developers and translate this into something meaningful (i.e. commercially benefiting) for them? A blend on gamification, mobile and big data is creating the potential for new business models and no industry has to be restricted to the old ways of working (other than a lack of imagination).

This sparked a few ideas; mashing-up all of this technology and applying it to real world situations...

Let us throw in wearable technology, which is currently all the rage. Consider what Under Armour could do with a running App... imagine that you're no longer hunting Pokémon, you’re hunting ‘Armourstops’, collecting items and/or completing a virtual training classroom within a certain time.

This type of orienteering game can collect and combine data not only from within the app, real-time, but can also be linked to health wearables. The users have points allocated for improving things such as BMI or blood pressure. The app developers can provide sponsored ‘Armourstops’ where partners can promote and even sell their products virtually.

Taking this concept a step further, the data could also be shared with your personal doctor who would be able to provide real-time recommendations on how you can improve your fitness and tailor personal health advice. 

The power of the data collected could be worth a fortune to organisations such as Under Armour; not only by providing them with a 360-degree view of their users but also sharing (selling) this data with other organisations. If, as mentioned many times before, data is the new gold rush then those that gather the most insightful, accurate user data will clearly win the race against the competition.

Another exciting opportunity is for the music and gaming industry, along with Hollywood, to find new ways of promoting songs, games and films. Contemplate augmented concerts right there in your living room, or how about being part of the next big Hollywood blockbuster, where you can walk the sets and see the movie being shot?

By collecting and mashing up personal customer data, companies can further personalise what you watch, listen to and play. Why should this model be limited to Amazon, Netflix or Spotify? In years past, Apple took control of the music supply chain and I feel strongly that Hollywood and other industries need to look at different ways of operating. New revenue streams could be available to these companies, which when combined with enriched analytics on their audiences, would mean improved investment for their next blockbuster.

The possibilities are endless. Just take the data and add imagination and innovation.


Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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