Changing The Game: What The Olympics Can Teach Brands

30/08/2016 12:54

Finishing second in the Olympics medal standing only behind the US, Team GB proved to be a world-leader in sport, as well as innovation, says Amelia Kallman, head of innovation at Engage Works and Flux Lounge.

Whether it's cycling, rowing, boxing or swimming, new and emerging technologies deployed in training practices are producing gold medal results, sending the nation an important reminder that we can still compete with the best of them.

From wearables, virtual reality and augmented reality, to the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, robots and drones, technology is truly changing the game at this year's Olympics. If you think Team GB look comfortable in the water or on the track, it's because they may have been there a thousand times before, getting familiar with the environment and conditions via virtual reality simulations. Smart fabrics, glasses and wheels produce time-synchronised data, giving extreme insight and measurability into the impact of tiny tweaks and marginal gains. Drones are used to track optical sensors on BMX bikes allowing coaches to track the rider's trajectory on the ground, as well as in the air. And in some sports, robots have proved comparable sparing partners, delivering trackable analytics and dynamic training.

While it's easy to see the impact of these emerging technologies on the world's finest athletes, it also teaches us an important lesson about the role of technology in our lives and in business. There are no athletes or coaches who have ever said, 'Get me some technology,' to use it just for the sake of it. Every specific use is driven by human needs and insights, to enhance human ability and experience in order to achieve greater, more measurable success. The operative word there is 'human'.

Now take this and apply it to the work the rest of us non-professional athletes do. Often companies are eager to get on the bandwagon of the latest technology trends simply as a matter of bravado, to say they did it first, rather than as a solution to a specific challenge of the business or customer. When focused on the trends rather than the question or need, this often leads to a lack of impact, money down the drain, and the declaration that the technology was no good, when really projects are destined to fail from the start if there is not a defined purpose, one that benefits and enhances us as people.

It's easy to forget that the success of technology can only be measured by the human experience. That's why it is vital for companies and brands to ask themselves, 'How is this technology, touch-point or innovation benefiting my audience?' When deployed for the purpose of enhancing our human experiences, abilities and relationships, whether that's on the field, in the boardroom, or at our local shopping mall, technology and innovation have the power to transform, giving us all the opportunity to achieve success on an Olympic scale.

Go Team GB!