CIO’s Need to Catch Pikachu

Pokémon Go is all over the news. Millions have downloaded the online game, making it the fastest growing application ever. But, it hasn’t been without problems. People have walked over cliffs, crashed cars, and found dead bodies while playing. To top it all off, servers have continued to crash due to the onslaught of players and a few dedicated hacker’s intent on causing chaos. I am not sure of their motives of denying us the fun of catching Pikachu, but they have attacked nonetheless.

When I first heard of the game, I thought it sounded a little silly. But the constant news reports have intensified the craze, and I recently became sucked into the augmented reality of Pokémon Go while on a trip this past weekend. After playing, I would encourage every CIO to download the game and cancel your weekly staff meeting. Instead, take the team outside and see who can catch Turtwig, Charizard or Dragonite. I am guessing you will learn more in an hour of this than going over your TCP reports or compliance reviews.

Lessons from Pokémon Go are pretty evident:

  1. It has been said that the best technology is so simple that it seems like magic. Pokémon Go is no exception. There is cutting edge technology behind this game, but to the user it is incredibly easy to navigate. One doesn’t need a manual or user guide to figure out how to find and catch a Pokémon. All applications should be this simple
  2. Augmented Reality is an awesome new technology. It has actually been around for about 10 years, but it is now popping up everywhere. And the use cases extend way beyond gaming. This weekend I watched the trajectory of a golf ball hit in the British Open, augmented by the line tracing the path of the shot.  This evening I was teaching my 16-year old daughter to drive and wondering what AR technology could be used to actually make this safer and less stressful.   Teaching her to drive from the comfort of my La-Z-Boy would be a breakthrough.
  3. Disruption will continue. I don’t think anyone would have predicted that a Pikachu could disrupt the world of advertising, but it could be the catalyst for massive change. Using location based marketing, the makers of Pokémon Go can now charge retailers to have these virtual creatures running through their stores. If successful, retailers could shift marketing funds from other campaigns like coupons or print ads
  4. Security is still a top priority. For three days in a row, DDoS attacks have reportedly brought down the servers running Pokémon Go. Having a strong defense, a scalable load-balanced infrastructure, and a proper mitigation strategy is crucial.
  5. Architect for elasticity and scale. Cloud computing platforms like Amazon Web Services are perfect for viral applications that have unexpected spikes in traffic. The public cloud can be configured to automatically scale up its processing with an almost unlimited number of virtual servers to meet demands. And, unlike traditional IT, you can also scale back down if and when traffic subsides.
  6. Technology (and the CIO) can have a profound impact on revenue and the bottom line, but only if you move away from the role of keeping the lights on and the internet up and running.   Nintendo’s stock price jumped 70%, adding nearly $7 billion of market value due to the launch of Pokémon Go, and may have thrust Nintendo into a position to compete for billions in online marketing revenues. Mobile apps, augmented reality, proximity based marketing, and cloud computing could all have an impact on many other industries as well.

My company, Relus Technologies, helps companies architect highly scalable, innovative solutions like Pokémon Go. Good luck catching Pikachu.



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