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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

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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.

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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

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Why I Love Big Data Partner Series 4: Distributed Big Data Cluster with Cisco UCS and MapR–Store Locally, Query Everywhere

Next in our series of Why I Love Big Data is Bruce from MapR.  Together, Cisco and MapR are working on a very cool solution for keeping data local, but accessing very quickly.  Also, come by the Connected Banking stand in the Cisco Live World of Solutions and DevNet area to see a demo of the distributed system. You will see how Cisco and MapR can provide solutions for security and data theft prevention to prevent theft of customer’s personal data and financial information.

BruceTwo4x4Bruce Penn, Principal Solution Architect, MapR Technologies
Bruce is a Principal Solution Architect with MapR Technologies.  He has over 22 years of Information Technology experience that includes Data Warehousing, Business Intelligence, Enterprise Architecture, Systems Design, Project Management and Application Programming.  Prior to MapR, Bruce spent 8.5 years at Oracle and was instrumental in helping grow the Oracle Exadata Database Machine business through extensive collaboration with several large enterprise customers.  Bruce was the first Solution Architect to join MapR’s Sales Engineering team and has been solely focused on the MapR Distribution for Hadoop and associated Apache Hadoop ecosystem technologies ever since. Bruce holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University.


Cisco and MapR have long been partners in the big data market, and with enterprises embracing the Internet of Everything (IoE) and moving towards a truly distributed data center environment, the combination of UCS and MapR provide unique capabilities to simplify this architecture.

Cisco UCS servers provide a powerful foundation for running distributed big data/Hadoop MapR clusters with unparalleled performance, availability, and manageability at the hardware level. The MapR Distribution including Apache Hadoop provides similar robustness at the software level, creating a rock-solid distributed platform for many flavors of IoE applications.

With the advent of IoE applications, data often originates at the “edge” of a system’s network, meaning that devices such as routers and switches in one data center will generate log data locally, while devices in other data centers will do the same creating silos of log data. In order for applications built around this log data to react in real time, they need to access that data as quickly as possible, and often those applications will want to aggregate the data across data centers in order to make decisions quickly, while keeping the data local to the originating data center. It may be important to keep the data local for legal and regulatory reasons, as well as for efficient local queries. With Cisco UCS Servers, MapR Data Placement Control, and Apache Drill, this becomes a simple task.

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