The World Cup brings out a sense of unity in people that is truly unique. For a few weeks every four years, football lovers from around the globe sit side-by-side to appreciate the "beautiful game", marvelling together at the play on the field and the electric atmosphere in the host country.
At the moment in Brazil, people are carrying their smartphones with them everywhere– from inside the stadium during matches to the samba club dance-floor for their victory celebrations – and are eager to share their experiences with other attendees around the country as well as their friends and family back home.
This year's World Cup is being covered by established 3G/4G mobile networks and Near Field Communication (NFC) mobile payment technology, allowing fans to communicate their thoughts and emotions with a huge number of people at once.
Brazil is hosting millions of socially empowered people who are no doubt constantly "checking in" on Facebook and FourSquare, updating their Twitter statuses, and sharing photos and videos on Instagram both during games themselves and whilst exploring the sights and sounds of Brazil.
Mobile services pushed to their limit
This puts significantly increased demand on bandwidth in a part of the world that is already densely populated, making the task of tracking consumer sentiment exceptionally complex.
Businesses that can analyse and react to this immense volume of data signals flying around the country will be far better placed to forecast consumer demand and to quickly adapt their supply chains to accommodate the attitudes and buying habits of fans on the ground.
As the tournament picks up steam and the pool of contenders continues to shrink, companies will need to be extremely agile if they want to supply those fans looking to support a new side once their national team is eliminated.
Running efficient and empowered supply chains will also help businesses ensure they can catch wind of unpredictable trends before their competitors can react.
The "Vuvuzela effect"
For example, if the "Vuvuzela effect" that swept South Africa during the last World Cup is reignited in Brazil, vendors could quickly ride a wave of fan engagement by stocking up on traditional Brazilian musical instruments and helping the local faithful fill the stands of Maracanã stadium with the sounds of their home country.
Of course, whilst it's important for companies to allow for a degree of flexibility in the supply chain, they must beware of relying too heavily on real-time reactions.
Accurate strategies developed as a result of advanced planning and forecasting in the weeks before the tournament can help them counter the threat posed by the new and potentially untested infrastructure in the stadia.
All it would take would be for the local mobile network to collapse under the high pressure it is expected to endure over the next weeks for companies to be left running blind on what will arguably be their largest annual sales opportunity of the year – and that's something that none of them wants to contemplate.
- Dominic Regan is Senior Director of EMEA Supply Chain Applications at Oracle. Check out part one of our World Cup series with Regan here and stay tuned for part three coming soon.
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