Coca-Cola VP of global connections Ivan Pollard on how iBeacons could help it ‘open up a new paradigm’

The use of iBeacon technology could play a fundamental part in Coca-Cola’s future, unlocking “huge” data insight and the ability to become a global network of information across health, education and nutrition, according to its VP of global connections Ivan Pollard.

Speaking to The Drum at Cannes Lions festival, Pollard said the drinks giant was actively looking at multiple emerging technology opportunities from the internet of things, to wearable tech and iBeacons.

“The aim is by the end of 2020 for there to be 20 million pieces of equipment around the world that have an electric socket in them, and imagine what would happen if iBeacon technology would be incorporated within it – it would be a global network of information and who wouldn't be excited by that?

“What if we talked to Google around the Loon project and somehow joined those things together. It could be our ability to provide education, information, health, nutrition, mobile connections, gaming and communication advertising, entertainment – we could open up a whole new paradigm for that, he said.”

The ubiquity, usability, and the openness of iBeacon technology, and the fact companies can build on top of it, is also a compelling factor, coupled with the expected gradual reduction in cost, according to Pollard.

“In the old days we used to talk about how great it would be to able to watch Fifa on a screen on my Coke bottle – we’re getting there. Everything you can imagine there would be a case for us to look at, we are doing so.”

Meanwhile he also stressed the opportunities iBeacon could help it unlock on the data insight front, and how that could help it refine its understanding of its customers to better serve them.

“The data side of it is incredibly rich for us. From a sales perspective then obviously we could really start to understand more - what do you really want to drink today and how are you going to drink it, how much are you willing to pay for it, and how much effort you are willing to go to un order to get it. Understand the behaviours and the drivers – data can help unlock some of that,”

Everything from increasing efficiencies in its supply chain to its communications with consumers, could be refined also. “It can open up connections to things that we didn’t even know existed. We sponsor Fifa for example, so have I got something that can correlate the effect on 12 year old boys whose first Fifa world cup is 1998 when we did X doing it with what we are serving their grandchildren 30 years later - understanding that lifetime value.

Although it is investigating these areas of emerging technology, Pollard stressed that "looking at" is the easy part - doing something with it is more difficult, adding that we should "watch this space" when it comes to its future innovations.

His comments came as Coca Cola reiterated its commitment to real-time marketing at the Cannes Lions festival. Pollard added that the biggest barrier to the acceleration of its real-time marketing approach will be down to legacy organisational structure.

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