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Omni-Tech for Omnichannel Selling

My last blog talked about the challenges of becoming an omnichannel retailer, and how stores are still learning how to make changes that cut across their entire business. We discussed how, appearances to the contrary, omnichannel selling is still about meeting a basic business requirement – finding the best outcome for you and your customer. However, finding these outcomes is a more complex proposition than it used to be.

Logically, to achieve consistent outcomes you need to achieve consistent consumer outreach, input, and sales approaches. But stores are also facing the demand to create a more personalized sales experience. How do you meet these seemingly contrary requirements? The key here is to find new ways to reach out to shoppers as part of the whole shopping experience, no matter what the channel.

For example, Cisco’s Remote Expert solution is a way to offer unique, personalized, yet centralized retail experiences for customers. It connects each shopper with a product expert wherever they are located, in real time, via mobile, immersive, or on-site channels. You save by leveraging your experts across single or multiple locations and devices using a pool of experts who may or may not be co-located, instead of providing expertise at every site or asking them to travel extensively. Retailers can also use the same solution to host training and corporate meetings, or to enable store feedback on products and merchandising. The result is a personalized shopping experience at a lower cost for the store.

Pretty sweet, don’t you think? To learn more, take the time to attend the webcast “Just Ask the Expert: Connect Your Shoppers to Virtual Experts, Anywhere, Any Time,” being held on Nov. 7. You can register here.

Truly omnichannel technologies are designed to support cost savings and efficiency, providing a more seamless interface for service that is customized for the shopper. As I said in my last blog, these approaches focus first and foremost on customer needs, making it easier to do business with your company.  A customer-centric strategy cuts across the business and all its channels, creating a different kind of relationship between you and your shoppers. See what Retail Systems Research has to say in their latest report about omnichannel strategies.

I love retail trivia! Comment below if you know the answer to this question: What is the second-most visited retail business in America? (Wal-Mart is first.)

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Speaking at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab next week

Are you in the Northern California Bay Area and want to hear about Open MPI and/or Cisco’s usNIC technology next week?

If so, you’re in luck!

I’ll be speaking at Lawrence Berkeley Lab (LBL) next Thursday, November 7, 2013, at 2:30pm.  Click through to see the location and directions and whatnot (LBL requests that you RSVP if you plan to attend).

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The FCC’s Moment is Now

With Senate confirmation of incoming FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, the FCC is now back at full strength.  A full plate of issues critical to the future of innovation and the national economy now awaits the five men and women who sit atop the agency.

Most FCC leadership teams are lucky if they get to decide one, maybe two, policy decisions of significant impact on the course of innovation and the national economy.  This leadership team has the opportunity to be the decision-makers on a number of critical matters. It is the FCC’s moment.

Among the key issues is radio spectrum – both in the licensed cellular and unlicensed Wi-Fi bands.  By 2017, the amount of mobile traffic moving over networks will be 67 times what it was in 2007.  Wi-Fi networks now carry half of all US Internet traffic, a number which will grow to two-thirds by 2017.  There is bipartisan agreement that more spectrum must be made available to ensure we can meet consumer demand, which is growing as a result of our ever-increasing reliance on smartphones and tablets, and the video and other content we consume every day.

The prior leadership of the FCC has successfully identified, and teed up, a number of spectrum bands that can be made available for broadband – 600 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, 3.5 GHz, and 5 GHz.   Now these proceedings must be decided. The issues in these dockets are difficult ones – transitioning spectrum from existing uses to new uses, and in some cases sharing spectrum — and are not susceptible to easy resolution.  The FCC’s actions to resolve these matters over the next 12-18 months will determine whether our regulatory system is up to the challenges that technology change and consumer demand have laid at its feet.

And as the FCC swings into decision-making mode on spectrum, so too will it need to decide how to modernize and streamline the E-Rate program.  E-Rate is the cornerstone of America’s effort to connect schools and libraries to the Internet.  Since the program’s inception 15 years ago, it has connected 100,000 schools to the Internet. But the needs of modern districts and classrooms are much different than they were 15 years ago.  Fifteen years ago, having a dial-up connection in a classroom was considered cutting edge.  Today, we need 25 students at a time – in classroom after classroom — to be able to connect to video content over a wireless network.  Among others things, this requires ensuring that there not just be good connections to schools, but within schools as well.   Cisco has developed 5 major recommendations on E-Rate, to ensure that there will be high speed broadband in every classroom in America.  Our recommendations can be found here.

Finally, we’d like to congratulate Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner O’Rielly on their confirmations, and we stand ready to work with them – and the other FCC Commissioners – to find practical solutions to the significant telecommunications challenges facing our nation.

#IoTWF: How Smart Cities Can Transform and Revitalize Municipalities in the 21st Century

At Cisco’s inaugural Internet of Things (IoT) World Forum in Barcelona this week, I spoke about how IoT is impacting multiple industries and public sector creating tremendous business value for companies, cities and governments around the world. IoT, which we define as the networked connection of physical objects has made its way from vision to an explicit part of Cisco’s agenda and to a definition in the Oxford dictionary. Together with mobility, cloud, big data, IPv6, and an apps world, IoT is one of the technology transitions that make up the Internet of Everything which includes the networked connection of people, data, process and things.

It is fascinating to see how IoT is rapidly gaining traction. We talked to more than 700 business and global thought leaders from across industries, governments and technologies at the IoT World Forum, who like Cisco, are passionate about innovation and accelerating the advancement of the Internet of Things for their organizations and society as a whole. As we move towards an application economy, we are working to make the world more connected. Barcelona was the logical choice for this Forum as a prime example of a city that understands the IoE vision and has embraced IoT to become a Smart City with the potential for creating new companies, more than 55,000 new jobs and $3 Billion in profits over the next ten years.


Smart Cities

As world populations shift to urban areas, community leaders are seeking to transform their cities to solve a range of pressing social and economic problems and capture new opportunities. The Smart City vision with applications like smart parking, smart waste disposal, smart lighting,  smart environmental monitoring and, new citizen services offers a path towards building better communities where people want to live, learn and play and where businesses seek to invest. It also enables the creation of urban centers that work more efficiently, effectively and productively.

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Your Device Is Wide Open on the Internet!

Stop-think-connect is not only for kids. Everyone, including nerds like me and network and security professionals, should pay more attention before connecting any device to the Internet. Routers (wireless and wired), industrial control systems, video surveillance cameras, fire alarm systems, traffic cameras, home and building automation systems, and many other devices are being connected to the Internet every single day, wide open. If you don’t believe me do a quick search on SHODAN.

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