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In Retail, Insight Is Currency, and Context Is King

Today’s retailers face a rising tide of change, disruption, and challenges, all driven by technology. As their business landscape is upended, many are struggling to adapt to changing consumer behaviors, competition from disruptive innovators, and exponentially increasing complexity.

The source of much of this disruption is the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the networked connection of people, process, data, and things, and Cisco projects these connections to surge from 13 billion today to 50 billion in the next decade. For retailers, that means a sharp increase in the potential channels, devices, and shopping journeys that are available to consumers. Increasingly, retailers must meet new demands for relevant, efficient, and convenient shopping experiences, whether in-store or out.


But for traditional retailers, IoE also presents tremendous opportunities. At the National Retail Federation’s “Big Show” in New York this week, I have seen a great openness to change and innovation. As I see it, traditional retailers are ready to step into the IoE era, but they will need the right ecosystem of partners to guide them through the transformation and help them make the right investments.

To better understand these opportunities and the changing competitive dynamics in retail, Cisco recently undertook a comprehensive, three-pronged study consisting of original research, economic analysis, and interviews with retail industry thought leaders. Released this week, the first wave of primary research findings includes 1240 consumer responses from the United States and the United Kingdom.

A key theme that emerged from the research was that today’s consumers demand new kinds of digital experiences, both in-store and out. In our survey, we presented respondents with 19 concept tests — everything from digital signage and same-day delivery to mobile payments and augmented reality. Above all, we found that shoppers seek a hyper-relevant experience — more so than a hyper-personalized one. In short, efficiency and savings are more important to them than personal engagement.

In our survey, 38 percent of respondents identified greater efficiency in the shopping process (e.g., ensuring items are in stock, speeding checkout times) as the area retailers most need to improve. By contrast, 13 percent sought improvements that would lead to a more personalized shopping experience. Read More »

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Creativity: The Secret Sauce for Successful Consultants

One of the challenges we’re seeing in business today is the need to re-learn the problem solving process. This need is increasing demand for creativity as a critical competency of the consultant of the future – driven by how businesses capture value harnessing the connectivity and intelligence enabled by the Internet of Everything (IoE). Read More »

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A Safer Ride, with a Smarter Motorcycle Helmet

Connecting Dark Assets: An ongoing series on how the Internet of Everything is transforming the ways in which we live, work, play, and learn.

Racing down the wide, open highway on a beautifully crafted motorcycle is one of life’s most exhilarating rushes. At least I used to think so, before my wife talked me into taking up safer pastimes.

But Internet of Everything (IoE) technologies may be offering me a new lease on motorcycling. A new product called the Skully AR-1 is being billed as “The World’s Smartest Motorcycle Helmet.” And who am I to argue? Read More »

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The Internet of Things Accelerates Innovation and Value Creation for Manufacturers

I wasn’t around during the Industrial Revolution, but I can’t help but think that today is an even more interesting time to be in manufacturing. I’m happy to be participating this week in the annual Rockwell Automation Fair, where it seems we can see the Internet of Things (IoT) evolving in real time.

Perhaps no other industry is being disrupted by technology more than manufacturing. As manufacturers digitize their businesses, operational complexity increases and competitive pressure builds—driving the need for faster innovation, quicker time to market, and more efficient processes. Those who can’t keep up are left behind. Read More »

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Context…Not Content…Is King : How Mobility Is Accelerating Innovation in an IoE World

We’ve learned a lot since releasing our original research on the Internet of Everything (IoE) at the end of 2012. I created a top-10 countdown style review of these learnings, however, today, I’m jumping right to #1 (sorry David Letterman). Here it is: #1 – Context…not content…is king.

Same Person, Different Customer

I was recently on a business trip to the Middle East. Just before boarding, I realized I left my headphones at the hotel. Not wanting to be on a 10-hour flight without them, I ran to the electronics vending machine I saw on the way to my gate. Without regard to price, I purchased the headphones I wanted and headed to the gate.

Now, contrast this event to when I originally purchased the now-lost headphones. I went to After reading the description and reviews, and doing some additional online research to make sure I was receiving the best price, I placed my order and waited two days for the package to arrive. Read More »

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