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A Retail Revolution: The Digital Generation Is Changing the Way We Work, Live, Play, Learn, and Shop

Retailers once had a pretty clear idea of who shopped where and how they did it. After all, there were not that many options available for shoppers. Consumers would see an ad or peruse a catalog, and then visit the physical store with the hope that their preferred item was in stock.

These days, retailers understand there is an entirely new kind of shopper. Indeed, since the advent of e-commerce, retail complexity has increased exponentially, and today’s digital consumer navigates a wide range of channels and potential shopping journeys.

As a recent Cisco survey of retail trends discovered, e-commerce has added about 40 possible shopping options for a typical shopper. With the rise of the Internet of Everything (IoE) — the explosion in networked connections of people process, data, and things — potential shopping journeys will expand to 800 and beyond. Some of the new options coming into play could include mobile devices equipped for live Web engagements, checkout optimization, mobile payments, wearables, augmented reality, and drone delivery.

The variety of journeys available to shoppers is growing exponentially.

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Source: Cisco Consulting Services, 2015

This sweeping digital transformation has dramatically altered the shopping behaviors of consumers, who now demand experiences that are contextual and hyper-relevant (enabling consumers to receive what they want, when and how they want it), whether in-store or out. As a result, retailers are reinventing their business models and rethinking much of what they once knew, including traditional customer segmentation.

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Video: IoE in Retail: Hyper-Relevance through Consumer Context

Increasingly, we are entering a period that has been referred to as “post-demographic consumerism” in which consumption patterns are no longer defined by traditional demographic segments such as age, gender, location, income, family status, and the like. This presents a significant challenge to retailers already grappling with growing complexity in their operations.

For example, Cisco’s research reveals that Gen Y is far from monolithic. On one hand, Gen Y continues to accelerate the shift to online channels (faster than any other group): although 34 percent make more than half of all purchases online as they seek convenience and greater access to information, 54 percent would shop only in stores for the next month if they had to make a choice. Moreover, just as the physical store remains important to Gen Y, many seniors are shopping online or with mobile devices.

In short, consumer segments are increasingly fragmented and ephemeral. The sheer number of potential shopping journeys is growing exponentially, and the change is occurring faster than ever before. For an individual shopper, however, the journeys are also dynamic. Consumers are constantly shifting to other journeys as new innovations emerge —
and faster than retailers can respond. Compounding this, the velocity of innovation is increasing as IoE dissolves traditional barriers (for example, through the low cost of app creation, the Kickstarter-style funding model, and so forth).

Since every retailer is unique, and there is enormous variation across categories, each retailer must define its own target segments, and then be prepared for the rapid evolution of new “microsegments.” Cisco is working with retailers to define target segments and prepare for the evolution of new ones.

To enable the customer outcomes that will determine the winners of the IoE era, most retailers understand that they need to know their customers as never before and, critically, possess the requisite business agility to adapt. Fortunately, IoE and consumer analytics technology provide the platform to truly understand, engage and respond to their customer.

Analytics is a key competitive frontier in the IoE era, enabling retailers to provide consumer experiences, offers, and interactions that are contextual, relevant, and timely. Moreover, analytics empowers the retailer to respond dynamically to constantly changing customer behavior.

To succeed in this area, retailers need a technology strategy that captures data at the “edge” of the network — from mobile devices, sensors, video cameras, and the like — and analyzes it locally, in real time, to respond to fast-moving opportunities. By leveraging analytics and other key elements of IoE such as video and mobility, retailers can drive greater efficiency in each customer journey, offer real-time savings, and create a more relevant customer engagement.

As shopper segmentation blurs, analytics is critical to understanding the new digital customer. Old or young, rich or poor, all customers have value and want to interact with retailers in new, hyper-relevant ways. IoE-driven solutions are the way to do it.

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Connected Valet Robot “Lights Up” Airport Parking

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

If you’re like me, you usually arrive at the airport for a business trip with no time to spare. Often, I find myself rushing to the airport from a meeting that ran late, or arriving at the crack of dawn after not getting enough sleep. So the last thing I want to deal with is trying to catch the shuttle from long-term parking — or even finding a space in the short-term lot. Some airports now offer valet service, but I’m always hesitant about picking up a scratch or dent when I give my keys to the parking attendant.

But if I were flying out of Düsseldorf, Germany, it would be a different story. This past summer, Düsseldorf introduced ParkingPLUS, which uses a valet robot called “Ray” to park your car safely and efficiently — with no risk to your paint job! Travelers just drive into the ParkingPLUS lot, and Ray takes it from there, measuring the vehicle and picking it up with a forklift-like mechanism. The robot transports the car to a back parking area, efficiently squeezing it into a tight space without trouble. And for travelers, the drop-off point is just a quick walk to the terminal.

Not only is Ray a very skilled parking attendant, it’s also a great example of how the Internet of Everything (IoE) “lights up” dark assets by connecting the previously unconnected. Because ParkingPLUS is connected to the airport’s flight data system, Ray knows how long you’ll be gone. This enables Ray to park your car in the best spot for easy retrieval. And if you change your return flight, you need only enter your new flight information into a mobile app to let Ray know when to have your car ready.

The Düsseldorf airport is the first real-world application of this technology from German company Serva Transport, which does not want to stop with airport parking. By installing its system into busy and congested urban parking garages, the company estimates it can increase parking capacity by 60 percent — saving time, energy, and aggravation as it reduces congestion and improves productivity.

But I’d be happy with the airport version, especially if it came to San Jose! With a connected robot valet, my travel days would be less stressful and more productive. The robot parking valet is just one more way IoE is lighting up dark assets — even dark parking garages.

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Cisco Live Milan: Service Provider Business Transformation Straight Ahead

Igor PhotoGuest blog by Igor Dayen, SP Product and Solutions Marketing
Cisco Live Milan 2015 has just concluded and concluded with a bang of record-breaking attendance and increased customers’ understanding of the IoE and service provider Technologies. In my first post-show blog, I focused on the overall booth offerings and discussed relevance of Evolved Services Platform (ESP) and Evolved Programmable Network (EPN) to service providers’ success and the importance of properly addressing their requirements. I decided that it is important enough to provide additional highlights on the Cisco Live event.   Before I share with you the remaining demo information, I wanted to recap the technologies that I described in the first post-show blog:

  1. nV Technology to simplify operations in the Network edge
  2. Segment Routing to enabled SDN-based routing and simplifying network operations
  3. Operational Simplicity enabled by Autonomic Networking in the Access
  4. Network Service Orchestration using Tail-f
  5. Virtualized Managed Business Services: delivering Cloud VPN

The above mentioned technologies are key innovations and bring a wealth of choices to the service provider when they create and deliver services to their business and residential users.

SP Business Transformation

We attempted to bring a comprehensive collection of demos to help service providers Read More »

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Cloud Innovation: An Ecosystem Makes it Possible

Momentum is building with Cisco’s Intercloud strategy.  And today’s announcement brings Intercloud infrastructure innovation, as well as 14 new Intercloud providers headquartered in ten countries into Cisco’s expanding partner ecosystem.

new partner mapTogether with our partners, Cisco is building the Intercloud – the globally connected network of clouds – delivering secure cloud applications and infrastructure everywhere in the world. It has what Chief Information Officers (CIOs) want and need – great choice, with compliance and control – enabling virtual machine portability, application-centric policy control and open standards. Service orchestration is a key challenge facing CIOs today. They face increasing demands for automation, infrastructure and data alignment.  Yet, when they turn to a single vendor for cloud services, instead of a robust and connected partner ecosystem, they are settling for limited services, less opportunity for innovation and restrictions on network connectivity and data movement. In essence, a one vendor cloud solution can trap a customer in a world of isolated clouds. Read More »

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Cisco and Microsoft – Simplifying Scale-Up Cloud for Service Providers

As service providers strive to provide choices to their customers, we have made great progress in providing them with new ways to deliver cloud services. We’re helping them intelligently address all cloud opportunities with a portfolio of cloud solutions that meet customer requirements – for all types of cloud delivery models. That is why we are bringing the next level of simplicity, choice and value to our service provider cloud partners by partnering with Microsoft to deliver a next generation cloud architecture – the Cisco Cloud Architecture for the Microsoft Cloud Platform.

This new cloud architecture for scale-up enterprise workloads and applications is designed to enable service providers to easily offer IaaS/PaaS and SaaS in a single platform with a life-cycle approach to service delivery and policy management. Most importantly, it allows service providers to lower Read More »

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