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Connected Life Exchange

By Jason Kohn, Contributing Columnist

How much information can you get from a number? Turns out, quite a bit.

At least, that’s the theory behind the Cisco Connected Life User Experience (CLUE). The index, designed by Cisco’s SP Marketing team, shows you trends in the adoption of various advanced services in different parts of the world, just by glancing at a number.

If you’ve never explored CLUE, check it out. It’s an impressive instrument that manages to convey a vast amount of information in a succinct package. I spoke with Shruti Jain and Thomas Barnett, who developed the index for Cisco’s Service Provider Marketing team, about how people are using it.

“We’re trying to offer a complementary view to the Cisco VNI,” Barnett told me. “Whereas VNI covers broad trends in network traffic, we want to compare regional adoption of advanced services. We want to be a finger on the pulse of how people are using network resources right now.”

A Holistic Methodology

Here’s how CLUE works:

The index measures changes in the adoption of three broad categories of advanced services (At Home, At Work, and On-the-Move) across seven regions around the world. The basis of the measurements is a snapshot in time — the penetration of various residential, business, and mobile services in 2008, which is assigned a baseline value of 100.

By seeing how that number changes each year (the index is recalculated annually), you can immediately grasp how adoption of different services is trending. So for example, On-the-Move services gained huge ground globally between 2008 and 2009, rising from a value of 100 to 119.45 on the index. Compare that to global At Home services, which grew from 100 to 107.56 in the same period.

Insightful, right? But CLUE goes much deeper than that. The baseline values are not merely arbitrarily assigned numbers. They’re calculated like an un-weighted stock index, with different services representing a bigger slice of the index depending on the level of adoption.

So, for example, social media accounted for 22.31 points out of 100 in the 2008 At Home index, while online gaming made up 11.76. By looking at how those proportions change from one year to the next, you can immediately grasp how people value different services.

Global Perspective of Comparative Data

The index also captures service penetration in different regions. So you can see at a glance the maturity of each service category in a given market, and how penetration compares from one market to another.

“It didn’t really seem fair to put all countries in the same basket, because clearly there is a different level of infrastructure readiness, as well as economic and behavioral differences across regions.” said Jain. “By doing this as an index, we can see the deltas over time relative to where each market was starting from and make an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison.”

Beyond that, CLUE lets you further explore just what a North American “At Home” user looked like in 2009, how that compares to a South American user or Japanese user, and what’s changing in the ways those users consume advanced services in their homes. In this way, CLUE provides a snapshot of where service provider infrastructure is making the biggest difference in our lives, and how our experiences with that infrastructure are evolving.

“One of the biggest trends we’re seeing is a blurring of what it means to be online at home, at work, or on the move,” says Barnett. “The same services are bleeding over into other aspects of our lives. It shows just how pervasive the impact of the network has become.”

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