Unless you’ve been hiding out on a remote island (and perhaps even there), Pokémon has returned in a big way. Pikachu and the rest of his Pocket Monster consortium have been invading everyone’s lives and social streams. Industry pundits have been talking about everything from the roots of this phenomenon as a spin-out of Google (and their 2014 April Fool’s Day Pokémon prank) to the pros and cons of the app. Even Gary Vaynerchuk—the well-known entrepreneur, investor and Internet personality—jumped in with a commentary about his excitement for Nintendo to finally step up and get their mobile game on.
In the first weekend alone, the Nintendo servers were overwhelmed (ahem … and still are today) by app downloads and sign-ups. People walked around backyards, communities, towns and cities—and everywhere in between. Parents and their children spent hours in parks—playing and exploring together. Kids of all ages were on a unified mission. As more and more activity occurred, this spilled over into retail locations, events and office buildings. So, you may be asking, why does Pokémon GO represent digital transformation?
It’s no surprise that digital has changed everything. Initially, the Internet (or World Wide Web as some of us may remember) was about taking existing “stuff” and putting it online. Today, this transformation goes way beyond screens … it’s all about experiences. With emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented reality, we’re enhancing the connection between physical and digital environments in more meaningful and seamless ways. We’ve watched the Internet change how we live, work, play, communicate and interact. Mobile and social have taken this to an entirely new on-the-go and always-connected level.
Enter digital transformation … and Pokémon GO.
What happens when you take the power of technology and use it to facilitate interaction and community around immersive experiences? You propel serendipity around people and location that drives us all to connect, explore and discover. Over the past weekend, I watched (on Facebook Live) friend and industry-leading educator Angela Maiers take part in Pokémon GO get-togethers in different locations, including Washington DC. “I loved learning about all of the historical sites and monuments that I would have totally ignored if they weren’t Poké Stops.”
- Grab your phone
- Download the app
- Roam around looking for Pokémon creatures with family, friends, neighbors and even strangers
- Experience augmented reality with your mobile device—no Google Glass required
We’re now using digital capabilities to transform our sense of community and business in an integrated and holistic manner. This is significant, as it reinforces those immersive and augmented experiences. This is a game changer (some pun intended).
What’s next? Like all things, Pokémon GO has the ability to be a fleeting trend or a long-standing opportunity. The consumer-focused nostalgia and digital/social wow factor are present … and it’s phenomenally multi-generational (as I walk around with my kids as a slightly more mature trainer looking for creatures to throw my Pokémon Balls at for some kind of points). This spurs [inter]actions and unexpected shifts. According to an analysis by Sensor Tower, the numbers go beyond simple app downloads. Users have been spending more time on Pokémon GO than Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and even Facebook!
If leveraged effectively and creatively, businesses, organizations and destinations of all types can drive awareness, activity, and potential customer engagement and purchases (eventually).
I’m hoping that this will be a major catalyst for other emerging technologies, bringing innovation to real-life community engagements. Being an early adopter isn’t a requirement, but being an early experimenter is important. As legendary entrepreneur Peter Diamandis says, “The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.” What do you think? Crazy idea or the future?