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Big Data. Big Opportunity. Real Simple: Practical Steps to Building Your Big Data Practice.

I talk to partners every day about the big data opportunity. We know that partners who sell UCS see dramatically larger deal sizes for big data opportunities.  We know all of this and still there is a lot of caution and skepticism from partners about jumping into this new world of big data and analytics.  I have heard comments from many partners, like:

  • “It’s just hype, another fad”
  • “I will ride this out and wait for the wave to pass and go on with business just like I always have”
  • “I am driving revenue and growing my business, why do I need to worry about this Big Data thing. I am not going to hire a “data scientist”!  I’m not even sure what I would do with one if I hired one!”

There is indeed is a lot of hype about big data and analytics today – it is everywhere. However, it is not a fad, and it is not going away. The world is moving to the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Everything (IoE), and big data is projected to be the next evolution of IT.

As IoT and IoE gain momentum, enterprises are deploying new data-creating sensor at the far reaches of their networks and billions of new connections are being made.  Cisco anticipates that 50 billion things will be connected by 2020.  Those connections are creating enormous amounts of data.  The ultimate success of IoT and IoE is all about being able to turn that data into insight.  Insights that drive organizational improvements such as delivering products faster, fueling higher productivity or predicting customer demand.  Big data and analytics is all about driving business outcomes from IoT and IoE. Read More »

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Digital Transformation in the Oil & Gas Industry: “Drill, Data, Drill!”

“Drill, baby, drill” makes for an easy mantra when it comes to energy exploration, but the oil and gas (O&G) industry moved past simply drilling long ago with the introduction of digital information processing. For example, integrated production modeling was introduced in the 1970s. With the recent turmoil in the energy industry, the stakes are even higher for O&G companies to work smarter and more efficiently. Forward-looking businesses are making the transition to true digital transformation, which requires the adoption of the Internet of Everything (IoE)—the networked connection of people, process, data, and things—throughout the entire O&G value chain. According to a recent Cisco study, of these four IoE elements, essential “data” is the component most in demand—and the element that needs the most improvement.

Survey respondents identified “data” as the area of IoE they need to improve most to drive insight and value.

Survey respondents identified “data” as the area of IoE they need to improve most to drive insight and value.

However, in many cases it’s not data that’s lacking; O&G firms are awash in data generated by sensors and machines spread throughout their far-flung operations. The struggle comes in capturing real-time operating data closest to the point it’s created, analyzing it in real-time and applying the results to improve functional and business capabilities. To capitalize on the wide range of data IoE generates, O&G firms must overcome three key challenges:

  • Automating the collection of data
  • Integrating data from multiple—and often far-flung—sources
  • Analyzing data to effectively identify actionable insights

Read More »

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Analytics, Separating Facts from Myth

If you ever want to start an argument, simply ask a group of music fans to name the most influential act of the Rock era. Then step back and watch the sparks fly!

As a musician myself, popular music, its origins and evolution have long been a topic of interest and passionate debate among my circle of friends. Everyone has an opinion and even the shyest among us has no problem wading in to this discussion. Sometimes it’s a matter of personal taste, but more often than not I’ve noticed that we tend to argue in favor of the acts we loved in our formative years.

People who came of age in the 1950s identify acts like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry as innovators. For those who grew up in the 1960s you can expect responses to include The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who. From the 1970s, you’ll hear names like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac, amongst others. And the list goes on and on. Read More »

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Improving Customer Loyalty with Data & Analytics

You don’t win customer loyalty solely by the “wow!” factor. You win simply by delivering on customer promises and resolving everyday issues.

According to research from CEB’s book, The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty, two major factors affect customer loyalty during an interaction:

  • The first is how much effort is required from the customer to resolve an issue.
  • The second is the skills and efficiency of the customer-service agent.

To positively affect customer loyalty, you need to influence these factors during the interaction, not after it.

Read More »

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Finding New Directions for Retail: The Ever-Changing Store

Hello, everyone! My name is Anne McClelland, and I am the new director for Cisco’s retail and hospitality sales team in the U.S. I’m excited to have the chance to write for Cisco’s retail blog program, and you’ll be hearing from me regularly sharing some insights, musings, and speculations on trends as well as giving you information about Cisco’s resources for the industry.

One of the interesting discussions that I’m having with our customers right now is about the relationship between eCommerce and the physical store, and how this relationship is being significantly redefined. Retailers are wrestling with how to leverage the store to improve online sales (and vice versa) to create a truly omnichannel buying experience for their customers.

To better align these channels, I’m seeing just how much retailers want to do more with consumer analytics. Retail executives are talking to us about their interest in finding new ways to understand who exactly the shoppers are, who is actually coming in their stores (and who is not), why they are or are not responding to promotions, and when they do buy: what was on their list vs. what was incremental to their planned purchases.  Retailers are also anxious to better understand and leverage the technology at the edge – at the store entrance, on the end-caps, in aisles, on the shelves, and on the goods themselves.

To make this all this magic happen, retailers find they need to upgrade network infrastructures; those who were not ready for all of these potential edge analytics are now finding themselves feeling a bit “behind the times.”  We are hearing that many of our retail and hospitality friends are looking to find creative new ways to light up the aisles and the back office. We are hearing very strategic questions such as, “Do we have too many stores?” “Are we over-invested in inventory and store footprint?” “Is there a way to streamline our operations?”  “Can we better integrate online and brick and mortar to gain efficiencies?”  Many retailers are integrating online delivery and returns to stores, as well as testing new models such as third-party package-delivery firms.  I’ll explore these topics in future blogs.

Meanwhile in the store itself, where the rubber meets the road, how are retailers differentiating today?  Where are the crowds of the people congregating?  Why are they there?  I think of the Apple store in our local mall, I think of the Disney store in Times Square. These stores are literally jammed.  Why is this?  Why is Apple’s store so jammed?  What has the Disney store done to evolve to drive crowds and new business concepts?

Innovation is key: Disney has made a business model around glamorizing the Disney princesses for their customers running “The Disney Princess Store,” including new services, videos, games, products.  They have opened up a mega-category that is a logical extension of what their customers love to do… dress up.  Why aren’t the department stores similarly jammed?  It’s all about innovation; it’s all about thinking deeply about the consumer; it’s about driving brand association and attraction; and it’s about executing on the “theater of retail.”

We’ll be joining Cisco’s partner NCR at the Synergy User Conference, being held June 22-25. I’ll be speaking there on the “Internet of Things: Retail Without Boundaries” and discussing how seemingly futuristic technologies are changing the way retailers interact with their customers – I hope to see you there!

I look forward to getting to know you in person and through this blog in the coming months. In the meantime, I invite you to extend your knowledge by attending our free summer retail webcasts:

  • June 16: “Delivering Successful Store-of-the-Future Experiences,” held at 10:00-11:00 am PT/1:00-2:00 pm ET, with Forrester Research’s Adam Silverman on improving store infrastructures and bandwidth. Register today.
  • July 14: “Make Your Data Meaningful: New Strategies for In-Store Shopper Experiences,” held at 10:00-11:00 am PT/1:00-2:00 pm ET, on new analytics capabilities for retail environments. Register today.

Feel free to connect with me at annmccle@cisco.com.

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