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Summary: Drive Customer Engagement with Analytics and Insights – the Next Wave of CMX Innovation

CES and NRF kicked off 2015 with a bang, and as usual, showed us that there is no shortage of gadgets and dashboards to help businesses solve their every need.

From an IT perspective, choosing the right tools to solve each technology challenge should involve a full evaluation the merits of feature sets, while balancing the (rapidly shrinking) budget. But the business doesn’t wait – IT is flanked by consumer-mindset-driven employees and visionary execs eager to stay on top of buzz words like Big Data and Analytics.

Not coincidentally, we’re witnessing IT budgets shift over to Line of Business (LoB), a clear nod towards the business relevance of digital engagement.

In fact, 44% of mobility initiatives are now either completely funded or jointly funded by Line of Business (LoB) leaders.

This is a great opportunity for IT to align with LoB interests and drive programs that allow LoB and IT to successfully deliver business outcomes together using technology.

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The Next Wave of CMX: Location Innovation, Scalability, and User-centric Analytics for Better Customer Engagement

Technology is a funny thing: it enthralls some, mystifies others. As evidenced by CES and NRF, there is no shortage of gadgets and dashboards these days to help businesses solve their every need. And it just keeps coming.

From an IT perspective, choosing the right tools to solve each technology challenge should involve a full evaluation the merits of feature sets, while balancing the (rapidly shrinking) budget.

But how often is IT allowed to do that anymore? Truth is, the business doesn’t wait. Flanked by consumer-mindset-driven employees insisting on using any tools that suit their fancy (hello, Shadow IT) and visionary execs eager to stay on top of visionary buzz words like Big Data and Analytics, IT often feels squeezed out from getting a seat at the table when driving the business.

The industry is witnessing a shift in IT budgets being moved over to LoB, a clear nod towards the business relevance of digital engagement.

In fact, 44% of mobility initiatives are now either completely funded or jointly funded by Line of Business (LoB) leaders.

Mobility is key. This is a great opportunity for IT to strategize and align to LoB interests to drive programs that allow LoB and IT to win together and successfully deliver business outcomes using technology.

Cisco’s Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) sits at this sweet spot where the network, traditionally owned by IT, can help LoB with their painpoints: data analytics on customer behavior, statistics for operational optimization, and even customer engagement opportunities. To learn more about how this works, visit cisco.com/go/cmx.

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Delivering Business Solutions with Connected Analytics

“Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the earth.” That is a quote more than 2,000 years old by Greek mathematician and astronomer, Archimedes. Fast forward to today’s technology-enabled world and I believe that connected data analytics is that lever and Cisco is the ideal place to stand. Through the Internet of Everything (IoE) — the networked connection of people, process, data, and things — massive business opportunities are available and become more salient with each passing day.

According to the annual IDC Digital Universe study, in a mere five years, about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for each human being on the planet. Yet, incredibly, nearly 99.5 percent of data (currently) is not analyzed and therefore not effectively utilized nor monetized. Because of the tidal wave of data, new analytical strategies are required. Most data are widely distributed, have a brief shelf life of usability, or are just too large to move efficiently. Today’s businesses require solutions that enable near real-time analysis to turn data into insight and actionable strategies.

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New Study Tells Retailers: Win Consumers’ Trust to Deliver the Hyper-Relevant Experiences They Want

As Cisco’s chief marketing officer, an important part of my role is to build and maintain the trust of Cisco’s customers.In fact, “brand promise” ultimately relies upon the trust consumers have placed in a brand. Customers who are loyal to a brand will trust that the next product or service introduced under that brand will fulfill the brand promise. However, trust can also have more widespread impacts that affect an organization’s ability to compete and to provide the innovative customer experiences required in the Internet of Everything (IoE) era.

This week at the National Retail Federation’s “Big Show” in New York, Cisco released a new study that uncovered some unique insights about shopping behaviors and attitudes among U.S. and U.K. consumers in the digital age. The findings point to the need for retailers to provide “hyper-relevant” shopping experiences that deliver value to the consumer in real time throughout the shopping lifecycle. Hyper-relevance comes with the ability to dynamically compare real-time customer information with historical data, and the resulting insights allow retailers to improve operations and the customer experience. At stake, according to our research, is an estimated profit improvement of 15.6 percent for an illustrative $20 billion retailer that builds agile business processes for turning these insights into value.

Our research shows that consumers are looking for retailers to deliver hyper-relevance via three value proposition categories: efficiency, engagement, and savings. In the area of efficiency, for example, 77 percent of respondents said they would be “somewhat” or “very likely” to use a solution to optimize the checkout process. In terms of savings, 79 percent indicated a willingness to take advantage of in-store offers provided via digital signage, while 73 percent said they’d like to receive special offers through augmented-reality solutions. And, in the area of engagement, 57 percent indicated a desire to learn more about products in the store by using augmented-reality capabilities.

One of the points I found particularly interesting is that consumers are relatively willing to provide certain types of personal information to retailers—such as name, age, past purchasing history, interests, and hobbies—in order to get a more personally relevant shopping experience. But beyond this basic information, there is a “trust cliff,” a steep drop-off in willingness to share certain types of personal information. A significant 16 percent of respondents were not willing to share any personal information at all.

This trust cliff presents an interesting conundrum for retailers. On one hand, our study shows that customers want personalized and contextually relevant shopping experiences. But on the other hand, they are reluctant to share the very information that can help provide these “hyper-relevant” experiences.

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2015 Is the Year of Hyper-Relevant Retail: Winning Shoppers with Efficiency, Savings, and Engagement

“Mike” may be an avid golfer who enjoys meandering through the sporting goods section of his local retailer. But he would be a very different shopper the morning his plumbing fails and threatens to flood his basement. In such a context, efficiency rules, and it is critical for the retailer to speed his shopping journey — from product research to fast checkout and payment. Friendly, by-name greetings offering prompts for new golf products on Mike’s smartphone would seem irrelevant at best, and intrusive at worst.

Checkout optimization, in-store sensors, augmented-reality solutions, and real-time analytics at the “edge” of the network are just a few of the capabilities that could give the retailer a clear picture of Mike’s shopping habits in that particular context — time, place, and situation — while helping Mike meet his plumbing crisis in a timely and efficient manner.

In effect, Mike is one customer, but he can be many different shoppers. And retailers need to know them all. Technology — specifically Internet of Everything (IoE) solutions that connect people, process, data, and things — is the way to do it.

To better illuminate the competitive dynamics and opportunities for retailers, Cisco this week shared its fifth annual retail consumer survey. Released at the National Retail Federation (NRF) “Big Show” in New York, the study includes a survey of 1240 consumer respondents from the United States and United Kingdom. Later this year, Cisco will release the complete global findings from 6,000 respondents across 10 countries.

At NRF, we also met with retailers from around the world, who shared their successes and challenges. Technology, of course, can be a headache for retailers. From disruptive innovations to rapidly changing customer behaviors, today’s retailers are challenged on multiple fronts. As the Cisco study found, however, IoE-enabled solutions offer retailers an opportunity to provide their customers with hyper-relevant experiences that blend the best of online shopping with the advantages of the in-store experience.

The key is to gain insight into the real-time nuances and context of the many shopping journeys available to consumers. That requires investments in the right technology. But how can retailers avoid the kinds of investments that have not paid off in the past?

In the Cisco study, we tested 19 IoE-enabled shopping experiences, spanning all stages of the shopping journey and addressing many maturing digital enablers, including video, mobility, and analytics. Overall, consumers indicated that they are very interested in using these applications to get more value. The table below illustrates our respondents’ interest level in the 19 individual concept tests, along with the financial opportunity from each of three value proposition categories: efficiency, savings, and engagement. Our economic analysis revealed that roughly two-thirds of the total potential opportunity (or $208 million for an illustrative retailer with $20 billion in annual revenue) comes from applications that deliver greater efficiency for consumers.

In the United States, disruptive innovators (e.g., Groupon, LivingSocial, Gilt) have successfully targeted consumer savings, which has served to exacerbate margin compression for retailers in some categories. We are now exploring these trends in Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. We find that most incumbent retailers, by contrast, are investing heavily in solutions that engage consumers at all points of their shopping journey, including bringing them into the store and cross-selling and up-selling to them (indeed, this is the underlying strategy of today’s discount wars).

Consumers have always been preoccupied with savings. So 
it is no surprise that savings remain the area of most interest to our survey respondents. Efficiency, however, is a close 
second in terms of interest. When asked about the areas where they would 
like to see improvements, 39 percent of our respondents 
identified the process of selecting and purchasing goods, showing a need for greater 
ease and efficiency. By contrast, only 13 percent sought improvements that would create a more personalized
shopping experience.

In this year’s survey, consumers made it clear that experiences must be efficient, contextual (that is, reflecting a shopper’s individual situation, real-time environment, history, and so forth), relevant to real-time needs, and easy in which to participate. In the retail environment, such situational awareness is essential to creating a better customer experience. Retailers must increase the value to the consumer throughout the shopping journey, demonstrably providing a combination of efficiency, savings, and engagement.

By exploring these solutions today, retailers can begin to realize a new level of innovation and competitive dynamism. And customers like Mike can look forward to getting their plumbing fixed ASAP (and maybe even return to the store later that day to try out some of those new golf products).

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