London 2012 to Rio 2016 - Mobile Metamorphosis: The Digital Olympic Shift

You’ve probably heard that the 2016 Olympics are just around the corner…..well if you’re in Brazil and near Rio de Janeiro they are.

The XXXI Olympiad kicks off on the 5th August and is likely to be an amazing 17 days of summer for athletes and spectators alike.

Since some of us were working in London in the few years before the 2012 games we wanted to reflect on some of the enormous digital changes, around mobile that have come about between the last Olympic games and the next.

Back in 2010/11 some of us were lucky to be involved in working towards the 2012 vision with several London Councils, with Olympic events in their boroughs. A few were inspirational in their visions and others were bought kicking and shouting to the new digital world. In the end though all managed to drive mobile forward, and continue to do so on their various implementations. These mobile solutions were mainly focussed at providing useful information as well as empowering the local councils population with self service functions such as:

  • Mobile Apps for Parking Payments
  • Local Housing Rent Payments and Inspection Tools
  • Local and Olympic News and Events     

A lot of focus and roadmap building was around streamlining and improving revenue for these councils that were under immense financial pressure. The lure of spending by the incoming Olympic spectator was something everyone wanted a piece of.  In 2012 spending averaged $1,830 per traveler, twice as much per visit than regular tourists to the United Kingdom in 2012.

Back in those days mobile applications, for local councils at least, were certainly not the norm and although it was six years after the debut of the iPhone, mobile applications were only starting to begin to mature.

2012 was however a huge year for the Apple App Store with more than 700,000 apps being housed there for growing iPhone consumer base and there were some great applications around, Snapchat launched in late 2011

In fact I’m sure 2011 (or 2012) was touted as the “year of mobile”, Intel launched a 41 megapixel smartphone at MWC!. I recall that 2013 was even proposed to be the year of the tablet (the first iPad was introduced in Q1 2010), but regardless of the past, mobile is most definitely now here and has been for a while.  


Now as we head into Rio 2016 there is no question about the power of mobile.

There are now circa 1.5million apps in each of the Android and Apple stores, an eye watering array and choice.  As a result creating applications that have an engaging user experience is essential to attract and retain users of your mobile solution.

The advancements of the last few years around consumer payments, digital business processes and streamlining user interactions, means that every business must look at what mobile can do for them.

Ownership of mobile as well as the amount of time that people spend on their mobile devices is also a massive leap from 2012.  Depending on which stats you read ownership has moved from circa 50% to 84% between games. Time spent on devices is now estimated to be around 2 hours per day, which has been assisted by relvatively lower cost data plans and the mobile ecosystem enhancements in general.

There is little doubt that smartphones will be a major driver of real-time conversations around the Olympics.  Sport viewers will be 2nd screen hungry and it is expected that over 50% of those watching the games, globally, will be on their mobile during the games and most likely chatting with friends and reading news.

Mobile is now business-critical and every day that passes without it sewn into your business processes and customer interactions means that you’re looking at defeat against you competition. Fortunately it’s not too late, but action now and start to build your roadmap to becoming a mobile first organisation.

You may be looking at improving your currently mobile or digital offering, or looking to make use of some of the amazing mobile payment options out in the market for your customers.  Brazil is actually the world’s leading contactless market, with in excess of 1.7 million contactless terminals throughout the country.

If you’re headed to Rio then enjoy the spectacle, you can even probably leave your wallet at home, as long as you remember your mobile.