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Top Three Things Retailers Need to Do to Thrive in the Networked Economy

Today’s connected and networked world has created a fast-paced environment for growth, innovation, and optimization. In retail, you’ll find businesses taking advantage of this new era of hyperconnectivity to deliver innovative consumer experiences for this new, networked economy.

MIT Technology Review calls the networked economy “the next economic revolution.” In it, commerce is created not through manufacturing, but by using technology to open new routes to market. Together, collaboration, social networks, the Internet of things (IoT) and business networks generate new forms of customer and product intelligence. Savvy retailers are using this information to earn customer loyalty, enable innovation, and enhance resource optimization in entirely new ways. Examples include Zara (redefining the speed of fast fashion), BMW (delivering a connected car with real time services based on the driver’s location and preferences), and Samsung (using technology to drive intelligent replenishment and avoid stock-outs).  All of these product and process innovations are fueled by the networked economy.

Leverage Hyperconnectivity for Increased Omnichannel Sales

In retail, hyperconnectivity is reinventing customer experiences. It’s eroding the position of established players and creating huge opportunities for startups. It’s transforming sales channels and disrupting the supply chain.

The key to this worldview is seeing online (or digital) sales as not just a new channel, but a critical piece of an omnichannel shopping experience that, when channels work in alignment, drive overall sales. Retailers that interact with customers through social media and encourage online reviews can increase customers’ comfort with online purchases. Women’s apparel retailer Chico’s, for example, allows customers to select clothes online and have them waiting in a dressing room at their local store when they arrive. Chico’s also encourages customers to share their style adventures using Pinterest, Instagram, and twitter (#destinationfabulous) for added fashion inspiration. Read More »

IoE is the Path to Gartner’s ‘All Things Digital’

This week, I had the opportunity to focus on digital business as an attendee and presenter at Gartner’s ITxpo in Orlando, Fla. It was a sold out crowd with 8,500 attendees and approximately 2,700 CIOs. And one insight that seemed to resonate with the audience was Gartner’s belief that by 2018, digital business will require 50 percent fewer business process workers and 500 percent more key digital business jobs.

At the ITxpo discussing how the Internet of Everything helps enable all things digital

At the ITxpo discussing how the Internet of Everything enables the transition to Gartner’s  All Things Digital

We already live in a world that is rapidly connecting people, process, data, and things in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. I believe that IoE is a key driver of this transition and a fundamental stepping stone to making “All Things Digital.”

Gartner defines All Things Digital as “blurring the physical and digital worlds to create new business designs.” Interestingly, Gartner focuses on people, business, and things, but omits process. Gartner’s view is that process will happen dynamically and be measured in not months or weeks, but nanoseconds. While this is a true statement, it reflects the end goal. The key question is, how does an enterprise become digitally enabled?

A first step in transitioning to All Things Digital, is embracing IoE by lighting up “dark assets.” A dark asset is something that is currently not connected to the Internet. A dark asset in itself however, does not create value.  ln All Things Digital, connected devices begin to talk with other connected devices. These devices interact with one another dynamically, which in turn creates processes in just nanoseconds. In this environment, IoE allows you to understand what process to focus on and which assets to connect. In other words, IoE is the pathway to Gartner’s All Things Digital.  The overarching goal is business outcomes. One retail example is connecting a parking lot to a retail store. In a recent trial, we found that data from parking lot sensors, when analyzed correctly, can predict when checkouts will get busy, so that more cashiers can be deployed. There are many other dark assets in a retail environment that have the potential to increase revenue, lower costs, and grow margins once they are lit up.

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1871 and Lighting a Fire For IoE innovation

This morning I had a pleasure of joining 1871 CEO Howard Tullman, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and many others in launching the expansion of 1871. 

Launched in 2012, 1871 is a leading Chicago non-profit incubator that provides affordable co-work spaces to Chicago entrepreneurs as well as community gatherings and programs such as tech talks, hackathons  and more.  They’re named after the fire of 1871 – not because of the destructive nature of the fire, but because of the innovation and ingenuity that built up Chicago afterwards.  1871 is true to its name as we’re seeing a similar surge of innovation and ingenuity from the startups that are based there.

Cisco was a founding sponsor of 1871 and today we’re expanding that sponsorship.  Cisco will be offering equipment, tools, training, and mentorship to members of 1871 (and we’re sponsoring their wireless deployment!)  The goal of this collaboration is to support entrepreneurs that are building Internet of Everything solutions.  Internet of Everything is the connection of people, processes, data, and things to the internet – connecting the previously unconnected. With an expected 50 billion devices that will be connected in just the next 5 years (up from 13B now) – there is a strong need for creativity and ingenuity as we build the infrastructure and systems to support all of those connection. We hope that this collaboration will lead to identifying promising companies for closer cooperation -- with the possibility of developing joint solutions and bring products to market.  Read More »

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Fog – A Clear Vision

This week at the Internet of Things World Forum we are challenging the industry to accelerate the adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT leverages many ‘off the shelf’ technologies but also has some unique requirements, which must be met. How do we make sure that the right critical information is being processed while conserving bandwidth and having a resilient network? Here at Cisco, “fog computing” is a clear technology vision, with the means to provide greater visibility and control- having the network and applications process the critical data in concert with the cloud. With today’s announcement at IoT World Forum, Cisco continues to deliver on its vision for fog computing with an increase in the number of platforms supporting Cisco IOx and the addition of application management capabilities.

Earlier this year we announced the availability of Cisco IOx, as part of the Cisco Fog portfolio of technologies. Cisco IOx allows customers and solution providers across all industries to develop, manage and run software applications directly on Cisco industrial networked-devices, including hardened routers, switches, and other devices. We have seen tremendous market traction of Cisco IOx in the last few months along with the accelerating IoT market growth. As IoT transitions from early adoption to wide deployment, Cisco IOx is enabling solutions providers across many industries to create innovative software solutions. Today’s announcement of the second phase of the IOx platform builds on the continuing momentum of Cisco’s vision for Fog computing. Read More »

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Enabling Agile Business Operations in a Connected World

We have all heard visions and use-cases about the Internet of Things (IoT). Many of these take on the flavor of pots talking to kettles and capture our imagination on what IoT can do. The question of “why” we connect things in the first place becomes obvious when we think about the value of such connections to users and businesses – a value creation that requires connecting people, processes, data, and things for the Internet of Everything (IoE). Unlocking the potential for such value means facing the reality of how we bring those four dimensions together -- a complex effort that requires us to bind all types of enterprise business assets in unique ways. We’ll take a quick look at how we go from the “Why IoE?” to the “How to IoE?”

While the promise of intelligent connections across these dimensions is easy to see, how we make those connections in a replicable and scalable fashion is far from easy. We are not just connecting machines to machines (M2M), people to people (P2P), or people to machines (P2M); not just enabling B2B or B2C. We need to enable all permutations of such connections for X2X connectivity.  Unless we have core building blocks that enable this, an X2X world can become a spider-web of unmanageable connections that require reinventing and rearchitecting for every new type of intelligent connection.

Enabling X2X Connections

Let us take a look how we can bring these assets together; the technologies and services that are critical to enable this value creation; and how Cisco’s suite of software & services for enabling IoE applications will help.

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Delivering IoE Solutions requires us to have capabilities that power each of the above four quadrants as follows: Read More »

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