Pokémon Go: 5 Innovation Lessons from this Augmented Reality Check

When launched July 6, Pokémon Go proved from the start that it could be much more than a global pop culture craze for gamers.


There’s more behind this game than searching Pokémon’s at your local landmarks, firing red Poke Balls, sprinkling stardust, and capturing points on a smartphone.


The real takeaway from Pokémon Go is that it shows market transitions can come from anywhere—even a game meant for kids of all ages. There’s no better time for innovators to take an augmented reality check on market disruptions.


Whether Pokémon Go is a fad or franchise, it reveals five lessons on how to identify, adapt and lead market transitions:


1. Market transitions often expose new ways to do business


They shift our perspective, present different ways of looking at things, transform experiences, change behaviors and create new business models.


Pokémon Go, which instantly became the most popular mobile device game of all time, did all of the above. In record time, it has disrupted its market and adjacent ones. It merged the real world with an imaginary one and gamified it, creating a new and transformative experience for users.


The game also exposed Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) to the masses by synchronizing them with location-based technologies (GPS) on a simple app downloaded to mobile devices. For the first time, almost anyone now can visualize how digitized objects and the real world interact. Moreover, AR and VR—once only understood by industry geeks—are now branded into the global consciousness. Now AR and VR have gone mainstream.


As a result, technology buyers in all industries will push solution providers to offer new “cool” innovations to their customers, especially younger ones. Think about it – Pokémon Go makes it easier for innovators to illustrate, explain and collaborate with their customers about potential solutions that fuse these technologies.


Retailers, travel brands, fast-food restaurants, museums, and other consumer destinations are lining up to attract foot traffic by sponsoring Poke Stops. Banks and other financial institutions are looking at virtual dashboards and other tools to improve customer experiences, build communities, and please young investors who want more interaction.


Even the parents of autistic children call it a “miracle transformation,” providing a “social hook” to social circles they didn’t have before. Ironically, the original Pokémon was invented by Satoshi Taijiri, diagnosed with Asperger’s, and was on the autism scale of genius.

Inspiration from Pokémon Go will surely accelerate and expand other applications.


2. Market transitions can come from anywhere


Market transitions challenge our beliefs and biases. They force us to open our minds, cock our heads at an angle, and think, “Aha! Maybe we can do it a different way.” In addition, here comes an “Aha! Moment” from Pokémon Go. How does this social phenomenon influence your business?


Today, however, a disruptive solution can blindside anyone from around corners they didn’t know existed. It’s critical to keep your finger on the pulse of innovation everywhere–and understand how it might apply to you.


Historically, successful companies have looked over their shoulders at their direct competitors while trying to run forward as fast as they can.


3. Co-innovation between big companies and startups leads to game-changers


No single company can keep pace by itself with the speed and complexity of today’s customer-driven, digital economy. Large companies focused on incremental or leapfrog game-changers must collaborate and co-innovate with an expanding ecosystem of startups, entrepreneurs, and programmers.


For example, Pokémon Go blazed new trails because of the teamwork between Nintendo and Niantic, a startup, and Google spinoff. Niantic had previously invented a similar game called Ingress, but critical mass for an augmented reality game didn’t erupt until this collaboration, which included the Pokémon Company, a consortium among Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures. (See Forbes article).


Larger companies must also help their innovation partners to incubate their ideas. At Cisco, we invest in startups, provide resources and mentorship, and hold grand challenges to inspire innovation worldwide. We also bring together communities of customers, partners, entrepreneurs, and academia at nine Innovation Centers worldwide. Together, we co-develop digital solutions in regional markets, helping to keep us at the front of the pack in the game-changing business.


4. Embrace transitions before it’s too late


One thing is certain: Once-mighty brands that failed to anticipate or react fast enough to market transitions will continue to fill up graveyards. Kodak didn’t understand the impact of smartphones. . . Borders didn’t respond fast enough to Amazon . . . Blockbuster never recovered from Netflix . . . will Yellow Cab adjust to Uber?


Today, market transitions and their disruptive innovations will keep coming in never-ending waves all around us. They can mean the difference between life and death for any company. Learn how to spot them early, appreciate their power, adjust quickly, and you can ride their crest to new shores of opportunity.


5. Never underestimate the power of a brand


Apple rose like a phoenix from the ashes, leveraging the ubiquity of the internet with game-changers such as smartphones, iTunes, iPods, and more. Who would have ever thought that a Pokémon brand originally targeting 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders, would spark a social phenomenon by capturing the hearts and minds of middle-school students on up to adults of all ages?!


Regardless if Pokemon Go keeps flourishing or fades, market transitions will continue to pop up randomly most anywhere like Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, and other Pokémon avatars. Ignore them at your peril. Keep your eyes, ears, and minds open to capture disruptive innovation before someone else does and captures you. If you jump in with enough Stardust, Lucky Eggs, and Super Potions, you too can hatch and incubate new, game-changing ways to win.

Meanwhile, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions, get stuck, or need an innovation therapist:


Email: agoryach@ciso.com / Twitter: AgoryachAlex / LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexgoryachev


#PokemonGo, #NeverBetter, #Innovation


This article originally appeared in Cisco Blogs on August 25, 2016