5 lessons any business can learn from the Pokemon Go craze

There are many lessons to learn, even from an animated augmented reality game.

pokemon go iphone

A "Pidgey" Pokemon is seen on the screen of the Pokemon Go mobile app, taken in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada July 11, 2016.

Credit: REUTERS/Chris Helgren

It’s a kids game. Let’s all chill out a little, right?

Yet, even for large companies, executives, those who follow tech trends, or anyone who watches the news once in awhile, you have to admit that Pokemon Go is one of the most important new advancements in gaming in over a decade. It has made Flappy Bird seem like a quaint diversion for a select few. It has even made Apple products seem like something you’d have to actually advertise about to attract new customers.

Thankfully, there are a few important lessons to learn from a business standpoint:

1. Alternative currency can work wonders

One of the main reasons why Pokemon Go is garnering so much attention has to do with the alternative currency within the game. We’ve seen this many times before but not at this level of intensity. You can pay $100 in actual cash for 14,500 coins to use in the game. That's intense. And, many people are doing exactly that without blinking, It could usher in the age of alternative currency in a legit way, and that’s a major benefit to companies working on exchange technology or have anything to do with BTC.

2. Business can benefit from hype

You might think Pokemon Go will be a short-lived trend. I happen to think it will change gaming but there’s no way it can sustain this level of excitement. And, I happen to think it is a fun diversion for any age group, not just kids. Yet, the real lesson is that Pokemon Go shows that real trends appear overnight and you can capitalize on them. That might mean luring in customers, or maybe realizing that trends fuel interest which fuels revenue, and that's OK -- it's how the world works.

3. Innovation gets attention

It’s easy to get jaded about technology and think there will never be another iPhone or another Tesla Model S that suddenly creates a massive level of interest. Pokemon Go at least proves it can happen, and at a level that involves kids running around on streets playing the game and people paying real cash for animated icons. It reminds me of the lines that formed at Apple stores for new iPhone models. For any business, think about how to do the same. Innovate as a way to drive in new customers.

4. Always do the deep dive

For any trend, it’s important to figure out what is happening even if you don’t have a personal interest. For example, small businesses have set up “lure modules” at PokeStops to attract new customers in large groups, and it’s working. It;s hard to ignore, but for anyone who follows shiny new objects and wonders why they draw a crowd, it’s important to get your hand son that new gadget and discover for yourself why it is creating such an allure. Is it 3-D printing? VR? Investigate thoroughly.

5. Don’t ignore the underlying tech

If you ignore a trend like Pokemon Go, maybe because you think it’s for kids or because it might fade away quickly, keep in mind that you would normally do so at your own peril. Something is driving the interest. The way the game was developed. The AR. The ease of use. There are many lessons to learn about alternative currency, what small business (and even large companies) can do to draw a crowd, and how gaming is going to change. Examine the tech, then emulate that success.

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