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Nike: Just do IT

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“No, we’re not a technology company.”

So said a Nike spokesperson recently after announcing their new wearable device; the FuelBand SE.

It seems an odd thing to say when although Nike specialise in fitness products and making top sportspeople more money than an Arabian prince, it’s their use of technology which has played an increasingly massive role for them in recent years. 

And I’m not just talking about the ‘gel technology’ in their trainers – it’s their overall strategy to meet their customer needs.  

First – some context:

The FuelBand SE measures pretty much all your activities including sleep, and during particularly lazy moments it catches you out and asks you to kindly get off your backside and walk about (the exact terminology is probably slightly more motivational than that, but you get the idea…)

The notion of tracking activities isn’t anything new.  Both Nike and its competitors like Jawbone and Fitbit have been productising it for a while through various fitness apps and devices, and this is in fact the second iteration of the FuelBand (the clue was in the acronym SE – Second Edition). 

The main drawing point of the first FuelBand was the fact that it flashed from red to green once a person's daily fitness goals had been met.  The difference with this version is that the SE is actually trying to adapt your behaviour, not just make you aware of it and therefore vaguely hope that you’ll change your ways if you’re not up to scratch.

It does this by combining lots of data including how often and how intense you move, and provides you with real time insights into what you could be doing better.  It uses Bluetooth to keep it continually synced with your smartphone (although only for iOS devices at the moment).

Nike is also building its own ecosystem.  If that sounds to you like something Microsoft or Apple would do, you’re absolutely right. 

Nike have been encouraging the building of apps that integrate into the Nike + environment and use ‘NikeFuel’ – a made up measurement for how much activity you do.  Devices from the SportWatch to the Running App to the Nike+ Kinect Training all use this.

The ways businesses should use technology now isn’t to fix things here and there, or to make things run better; technology should play a fundamental part in your business strategy to keep you ahead of the game.  

And it’s not just about having the right systems and processes – it’s what you do with the data you acquire and how you turn that into giving your customers a better experience that matters the most. 

So although it’s probably right to say that Nike isn’t a technology company per se, technology has certainly become more and more fundamental to their overall strategy and has allowed them to best figure out how they can transform the data they collect into giving their customers better experiences.

No longer is it just about a pair of trainers that could help you to run as fast as Usain Bolt, Nike are actually using technology to try to get their customers to think about their fitness in a broader sense, and keep them constantly aware of how they can improve it. 

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