A new gold mine has been established, okay not a traditional one, but it is yellow at least! “Pokemon Go” has started a global craze similar to what we saw with games like “Angry Birds” and “Candy Crush”. It’s not uncommon to see people randomly walking around the streets or parks with their phones held up looking for monsters! So where is the gold in that you ask? Well how about the 200 million USD of Net Income that Nintendo saw from the game in just the month of July and this was even before the game opened up into some of the biggest gaming markets like China and Korea!
But this blog is not about Nintendo’s success – that is pretty evident. What I am more interested in is the amazing appearance of the ecosystem around “Pokemon Go”, which is very similar to the pop- up towns that appeared at a new gold rush location. The game itself has been running for roughly three months and, in that time, we now have dating applications so as you can hunt monsters with that someone special (seriously!), or get access to maps showing key locations where monsters hang out and even go to online stores where you can buy Pokemon clothing so you stand out when hunting for monsters. I didn’t realise until my kids were running around an airport that apparently Pokemon monsters are trying to now even board planes!
We have truly moved into a digital era, one where entrepreneurial individuals are ready to respond to the latest craze and set up their own version of a bar, tailor, supply store or even more mature entertainment. Our world has clearly shifted from the physical to the virtual and these pop up ecosystems are testament to that. What is interesting though is that unlike the gold mining towns of old, these digital pop-up ecosystems will disappear faster and leave almost no evidence that they even existed. This is because the technology of our era has caught up with our childlike behaviour when it comes to our digital lives.
I think Bill Connolly said it best with “I want it now, I want it yesterday and stay awake because I will change what I want tomorrow!” We have always wanted immediacy and, as adults, we grow to accept and understand we can’t always have what we want. However, the digital world changed that with information, collaboration, games and shopping. Hence businesses have always been keen on capturing this market, but much like a child, our interests tend to be brief before we will move on with something else (don’t believe me? Well did you know the average use of an application you download is only 4-5 days? – brief indeed).
For businesses to be able to leverage this opportunity they need infrastructure to be available to spin up and spin down. They also need access to high speed connectivity to ensure their temporary services are always accessible and lastly they need to access both of these elements all over the world in order to ensure they benefit from the breadth of interest these opportunities bring albeit briefly.
Fortunately, our word has never been more connected and as such these pop up businesses can thrive profitably for short periods of time and then quickly pull back on the throttle when interest starts to wane. Of course there is no guarantee of success with these pop up businesses, but because of the elastic availability and pay-as-you-use commercial engagements, they can afford to fail and that confidence can help to increase a willingness to experiment with different types of services. Imagine if you tried to do that in a gold rush town – how many unused buildings or wasted supplies thrown out the back of the building as they tried to forget what hadn’t worked!
In today’s day and age it is all about the here and the now, and I believe it will become increasingly common to see businesses where there purpose is to build capability akin to running a short term project. Their success will also be determined by how long they can ride the coat tails of disruptive market developments by being agile and relevant and equally how many of these initiatives they can run in parallel before scale becomes a burden to their agility. The digital boom town has arrived and I am sure it won’t be long before we start seeing a map of the digital gold mines that exist in our newly created digital world to provide budding entrepreneurs with directions on how to find the nearest pop up town and set up their own shop. Ultimately, where there is gold, there is business to be done – albeit in the virtual hills!